GREAT BASEBALL MOMENTS- BUCKY F. DENT’S HOME RUN SLAYS THE RED SOX- OCTOBER 2, 1978

Forty years later, Bucky Dent, Mike Torrez still talking about the home run  | Newsday

Great Baseball Moments: Red Sox fans and Yankee haters -[count me in that group] will not even 43 years later consider this a ‘great moment’- but especially for Red Sox fans of a certain age it has to be a painful memory.

On July 14th the Red Sox enjoyed a 14 game lead on the Yankees. The World Champion Yankees had suffered from many injuries and on the field and off the field issues. Fiery Billy Martin had been fired and replaced by laid back Bob Lemon. Things then started to change- the rest of the season- the Yankees caught fire going 52-21 over the last 73 games. The Red Sox meanwhile were just playing over .500 at 38-35 in the same period of time.

Going into the final day of the season- October 1- the Yankees had a 1 game lead. To force a playoffs the Red Sox had to win and the Yankees would have to lose to the lowly Indians. Believe it or not it happened- both teams finished the season with records of 99-63. There would be a one game playoff at Fenway Park the following afternoon.

I missed the first few innings of the game due to school [but I had my trusty transistor radio and ear plug with me to keep tabs on the game. Looking back I should have skipped school that day.] When I got home and turned the television on the game was approaching the middle innings and the Red Sox behind pitcher Mike Torrez enjoyed a 2-0 lead.

Top of the 7th -2 outs and 2 on and light hitting shortstop Bucky Dent -a good shortstop but a lifetime .247 hitter who was by no means a power threat came up to the plate. With the count of 1 ball and no strikes Dent fouls a ball off of his foot- which requires attention from the Yankee trainer. The bat boy also brings Dent out a new bat. Dent gets back in the batters box. Dent hits a ball that at first looks like just a routine fly to left field where Carl Yastrzemski was under it- certainly looked like the 3rd out. But the ball kept going and Yaz kept drifting back to the Green Monster. The ball disappears over the wall- 3 run home run. This would be the blow that really sunk the Red Sox. Their 2-0 was gone- they were now down 3-2. The Yanks would add another run in the 7th and one in the 8th for a 5-2 lead. In the 8th the Red Sox scored twice making it 5-4. The Red Sox in the bottom of the 9th rallied but with two outs and two runners on- Carl Yastrzemski popped up to Craig Nettles at third base and it was all over.

The two best teams in baseball had met -and the Yankees had won- they would go on to win the World Series. Bucky Dent an ordinary player- is now a part of baseball history and is remembered by Red Sox fans as Bucky F’in Dent. A most unlikely hero for the Yankees. The Curse of The Bambino would continue for 26 more seasons.

12 responses to “GREAT BASEBALL MOMENTS- BUCKY F. DENT’S HOME RUN SLAYS THE RED SOX- OCTOBER 2, 1978

  1. I remember watching this and pulling for the Red Sox. I picked them as my favorite American League team. You are right though…they were the best two teams in baseball. I still cannot believe the Yankees came back that season. I do think as great as Martin was…if he would have remained their manager that particular year… they would not have done it.

    • Things were out of control when Billy was axed- I agree – I think that drastic change from a fiery Martin to a laid back Lemon changed the course of the season. I don’t think that happens like that too often- the change in managers during the season doing much good but in this case….. I thought for sure in 1975 after the Sox lost in the series that that team would surely be back in another series… you just never know.

    • What is sad about Billy…he seemed like a decent guy until he drank…I guess that could be said about everyone. Sparky’s book really puts it in perspective…
      A little later on I read Graig Nettles book and it backed it up somewhat…but Sparky’s book is hard to beat.

    • From what I’ve read- Billy does seem like two people- very well liked by a lot of people- but just couldn’t handle the drink. He was a product of his times- its always seemed that they made a big deal about how Billy, Mickey and Whitey would carry on- but that certainly led to the early deaths of Billy and The Mick.

    • I agree… he was different people. He did have a paranoid streak in him that I think partly made him a great manager. He seemed to think everyone was after him.
      Mickey seem to always think he was going to die of the same disease his dad had… at least that is what I read on why he drank so much but like you said… it was probably just the times.

  2. Bucky was a favorite when he was with the White Sox and a lot of people couldn’t understand why they traded him until Oscar Gamble became one of the South Side Hitmen in ’77 and Lamarr Hoyt helped the Sox win the AL West in ’83. And Dent was all it cost the White Sox…

    • I can recall when Dent first came up big things seemed to be expected of him- he had a fine career- of course for that one swing-he will be always remembered… that Sox team in 77 had to be a fun one to watch. A lot of hitting.

    • Oh, it was. Bob Lemon managed them in ’77 and part of ’78, by the way. Bill Veeck ran the Sox on a shoestring and had this idea to get superstars that were just about ready to go to free agency. In ’77 that was Gamble and Zisk and they almost pulled it off. Naturally, Zisk and Gamble were gone the next year and he tried the same thing with Bobby Bonds, and it did not work well, so he traded Bonds and fired Lemon. That’s when the Yankees signed him…

    • The Pirates and Sox -made that trade of players who lasted just one year before free agency which helped both teams- Gossage and Forester for Zisk- helped both teams that season–what a bullpen the Pirates had that year.

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