BOSTON – The Yankees brought a lucky charm to Fenway Park — a scrappy former shortstop meant as Boston kryptonite.
Bucky Dent, whose famous home run off Mike Torrez sent New York past the rival Red Sox in the 1978 AL East tiebreaker, traveled from his home in Florida to attend Tuesday night's AL wild-card game.
Dent's drive 43 years ago over the Green Monster swung the only other one-game, winner-take-all matchup between the teams. This time, the Yankees were counting on his presence alone to help propel them into an AL Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
His seat? Right behind home plate in view of any Red Sox pitcher who took the mound.
"It’s awesome," Dent said during an interview on the ESPN broadcast.
In the end, Dent didn't do the trick: New York was eliminated with a 6-2 loss.
Dent said he gets asked about his memorable home run two or three times daily. It not only stunned the Yankees' longtime rivals, but eventually helped his team to a second consecutive World Series title.
“It’s something that was special,” he said.
New York manager Aaron Boone knows the feeling, himself having eliminated the Red Sox on a big stage when he hit an 11th-inning, walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.
Comparisons between the two home runs have followed Boone ever since, and he said it's been “cool” getting to know Dent a little bit over the years.
“Such a good dude, too,” Boone said before the game. “And for me growing up in the game and a fan of the game, I knew who Bucky Dent was, you know, playing in the ’70s and ’80s. So, yeah, that’s a cool connection.”
“Maybe someone else will have a moment. Maybe for the 'stripers.”
Asked what kind of reception he was getting in his return to Boston, Dent just laughed.
“They don’t know I’m here yet,” he said.
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