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Monday, April 06, 2020

This Day in Transaction History: Yankees acquire Bucky Dent

Bucky F***ing Dent. For decades, that’s how fans of the Boston Red Sox referred to the shortstop who spent six of his 12 seasons with the Yankees. Dent posted an unimpressive .618 OPS over his career but hit one of the more important and memorable home runs in the Yankees’ storied history. None of it would have happened if the Yankees didn’t acquire him from the White Sox 43 years ago.

In his first four seasons in the majors with the White Sox, Dent earned a reputation as a good defender, finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year balloting in 1974 and making the AL All-Star squad the following year despite uninspiring offense numbers. Heading into the 1977 season, Dent and the White Sox weren’t able to come to an agreement on a contract, so the club traded him to the Yankees, who were in need of an established shortstop.

Dent won a World Series ring in his first year with the Yankees in 1977 as the club defeated the Dodgers in six games in the Fall Classic. Dent, as expected, did most of his work with his glove but left much to be desired at the plate, finishing the regular season with a .653 OPS. He went 8-for-33 with seven singles and a double in the postseason.

The 1978 season was looking like more of the same. Dent played in 123 games, posting a .603 OPS in the regular season. He would have had a sub-.600 OPS if not for his heroics in the final game of the season, a Game 163 tiebreaker against the Red Sox. Both clubs finished the year with a 99-63 record. Back then, only four teams made the playoffs, so this was an even more monumental game than it would have been by more modern standards. The Red Sox won a coin toss so they had the privilege of hosting the Yankees for all the marbles.

In other words, Red Sox fans have Bill Veeck to blame…..

 

QLE Posted: April 06, 2020 at 12:48 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bucky dent, history, transactions

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   1. TomH Posted: April 06, 2020 at 07:54 AM (#5936894)
I have a fairly distinct memory of reading this transaction in the papers, and saying to myself "oh crap, the Yankees fixed their only hole and now will win again this year". Sure enough, as I look back at the stats, the 1976 Yankees were a great team with one big problem; two lousy guys trying to cover shortstop (Stanley and Mason, both mid-500 OPS career). Dent was a better hitter and fielder, and this provided enough for NYY to win back-to-back AL east titles in 77 and 78 by slim margins.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: April 06, 2020 at 08:30 AM (#5936901)
relegated to the dustbin of history by 2004 and beyond.

Bucky F Dent, we hardly knew ye.
   3. Karl from NY Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:15 PM (#5937092)
The Dent HR is surprisingly overrated in legend. It wasn't a walkoff or even in the last inning, it was the top of the 7th. It wasn't even the deciding run, both teams scored again the next inning.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:19 PM (#5937095)
It wasn't even the deciding run, both teams scored again the next inning.

Huh? He hit a three-run HR in a game his team won 5-4. That's pretty decisive.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:33 PM (#5937100)
It was a two-out homer in the seventh that turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Without it, the Yankees likely don't win the AL East (and the World Series two weeks later) and instead of the final victory in the comeback from 14 down, it's instead a game that erases decades of heartbreak for the Sox, where they won the last nine games of the regular season to overtake their longtime rivals.

I think it's place in legend is pretty appropriate.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5937101)
Huh? He hit a three-run HR in a game his team won 5-4. That's pretty decisive.
True, but I still know what Karl means. The Dent HR has become retroactively famous for all the exta stuff it embodies in addition to its actual in-game importance.

Looking at the game logs, it seems like the Munson HR in the ALCS that year seems really important but is obviously much less famous.
   7. Itchy Row Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5937102)
Coincidentally and, based on the article, completely unrelatedly, that was the same day the White Sox acquired Oscar Gamble, who hit 31 HR that year for one of the few interesting White Sox teams of the era, and LaMarr Hoyt, who won a Cy Young for them before they traded him for Ozzie Guillen.
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:43 PM (#5937106)
Coincidentally and, based on the article, completely unrelatedly, that was the same day the White Sox acquired Oscar Gamble
Maybe you were being facetious, but it was the same trade.
   9. Itchy Row Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:46 PM (#5937108)
I was. It seems like the other side of the trade like that merited at least a mention.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:47 PM (#5937110)
Sorry, my subtlety detector is wonky right now!
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:49 PM (#5937111)
True, but I still know what Karl means. The Dent HR has become retroactively famous for all the exta stuff it embodies in addition to its actual in-game importance.


That's true of all of them. Carlton Fisk's homer was a Game 6 of the World Series the Red Sox lost. Bobby Thomson's was in a playoff game, not a World Series. The Homer in the Gloamin' was in the final week of the regular season. Jose Bautista's was in an ALDS and the Jays were eliminated in the ensuing ALCS. All of our sports moments are famous in part because of everything that surrounds it.

   12. Nasty Nate Posted: April 06, 2020 at 05:52 PM (#5937112)
All of our sports moments are famous in part because of everything that surrounds it.
But some of those moments can become overlooked or overrated.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: April 06, 2020 at 06:04 PM (#5937116)
But some of those moments can become overlooked or overrated.


That seems to be an argument against spectator sports in general, not Bucky Dent's homer in specific.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: April 06, 2020 at 06:12 PM (#5937117)
That's true of all of them. Carlton Fisk's homer was a Game 6 of the World Series the Red Sox lost. Bobby Thomson's was in a playoff game, not a World Series. The Homer in the Gloamin' was in the final week of the regular season. Jose Bautista's was in an ALDS and the Jays were eliminated in the ensuing ALCS. All of our sports moments are famous in part because of everything that surrounds it.

[Howie's obligatory observation that the Don Denkinger blown call in the 1985 WS came in Game 6, not Game 7, and all it did was erroneously put the leadoff runner on base in the 9th inning with the Cardinals holding a 1-run lead. the Cardinals had to #### some beds in that inning, and then in an entire Game 7, to ensure Denkinger's everlasting infamy - and boy, did they ####!]
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: April 06, 2020 at 06:14 PM (#5937118)
But some of those moments can become overlooked or overrated.
That seems to be an argument against spectator sports in general, not Bucky Dent's homer in specific.
Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but I for one am not going to stand here and listen to you badmouth spectator sports. Gentlemen!
   16. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 06, 2020 at 08:29 PM (#5937137)
It's easy to forget just how much power has increased in the sport. The '78 Yankees hit 125 home runs. Bucky—a guy who choked up on the bat even in the on-deck circle—had 5. The team SLG was .388. Reggie led the team at .477, which would have been 7th among New York's 2019 regular batters, behind Voit (.464) and Gregorious (.441). Every other 2019 regular was over .500. Cameron Freakin' Maybin was at .494 in 269 PA. So, yes, there's the context of the teams that SoSH outlined in #5, and there's also the context of power coming from Dent—he of 40 home runs in 5,000 career PA, only 3 of which were in Boston—in an age with much less power than we've seen for a while.
   17. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 07, 2020 at 12:39 AM (#5937169)
If you don't love Rick Camp's 18th-inning home run, you don't love baseball. (Losing pitcher in that game: Rick Camp.)
   18. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: April 07, 2020 at 05:23 AM (#5937179)
I can't think of Bucky without giving credit to his Bucky Dent Baseball camp in Florida. I was a youth league coach for 10 years and many of my players, including my son, attended there countless times. The time they spent there was totally fantastic. Not only did they always receive wonderful baseball instruction and experience, but Bucky was often there himself and always had a big name player or manager to talk to and interact with the kids. They met dozens of them including Gary Carter, Tino Martinez, Gary Sheffield, Jim Leleand, Kevin Brown, Robb Nen and so many I can't remember. Each took a photo with every camper in addition to working with them. Interestingly, the nicest and most personable to the kids was (surly) Kevin Brown (and of course Carter). And yes, Bucky had a "Little Fenway Park" built there with a just as ugly green pile in left as the original and the scoreboard frozen in the 7th with the 3-2 score.
   19. Ron J Posted: April 07, 2020 at 08:58 AM (#5937199)
I think one under-appreciated factor in the fame of Dent's home run is that he was not really an offensive threat. There's no small amount of shock baked into the moment.
   20. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 07, 2020 at 09:48 AM (#5937220)
Following up on the "Strangest Funniest Baseball Reference Pages" thread in which Paul O'Neill kicks "Left" and Ted Williams' place of burial is "Frozen," BBRef is missing a real opportunity in listing Bucky Dent without a middle name.

Also, they should add "Ewell Blackwell" to the Similarity Scores on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's stat page.
   21. Jay Z Posted: April 07, 2020 at 07:13 PM (#5937444)
I think one under-appreciated factor in the fame of Dent's home run is that he was not really an offensive threat. There's no small amount of shock baked into the moment.


Five home runs is not zero, though. Basically a 1 in 100 chance. 1 in 30 in terms of a game. It's not like seeing Hoyt Wilhelm or Tom Lawless hit a HR.

Bucky Dent hit 40 career HR. Rich Dauer hit 43. Rich Dauer hit a HR in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series. In that case there was no one on and it was the only run the Orioles scored in a loss. With Dent there were two runners on, and an obvious way to score a "cheap" HR.
   22. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 07, 2020 at 09:05 PM (#5937462)
Rich Dauer's home run was against the Baltimore Orioles' most hated rival, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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