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Bucky *Expletive* Dent.
Just another name that echoes through the streets of Boston and haunts those that were around in 1978. Those that were around witnessed history in a dichotomous fashion. New Yorkers witnessed one of the greatest late-season comebacks in the history of Major League Baseball. While Bostonians witnessed one of the worst late-season collapses by any team in Major League Baseball history.
In July of the 1978 season, the New York Yankees found themselves 14.5 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox, in a time where there were only two divisions in each league and wild cards did not exist. And after that, as they say, the rest was history.
The Yankees stormed back, finishing the season with a 39-14 record and swept the Red Sox in a pivotal four-game series in early Septemeber. After the “Boston Massacre” and with the help of Ron Guidry’s 25-win season and 1.74 earned run average, the Yankees forced a tie-breaker game on the last game of the season, leaving both teams with a record of 99-63.
The Red Sox won home field by the flip of a coin. So far, so good. After finishing the regular season 7-0, the sun was once again shining on Fenway Park and with the opportunity to now play this tie-breaker amongst the Fenway faithful, the glass was once again relatively half full for the Boston Red Sox.
The optimism continued after a Carl Yastzremski home run and a Jim Rice RBI single gave Boston a 2-0 advantage, carrying that lead into the seventh inning. Nine more outs and all would be forgiven in Boston. Nine more outs and the Yankees late-season comeback would simply be an admirable attempt; an almost; better luck next year. Unfortunately, the Red Sox had a tendency to give up leads at the latter part of anything during the 1978 season.
The trend of disaster and collapse that plagued the Red Sox overshadowed any minimal optimism when unlikely hero, Bucky Dent, stepped up to the plate with two men on and deposited a home run ball over the Green Monster. It was only his fifth home run of the season but that is all it took to shock Fenway Park and leave everyone in attendance speechless. The Yankees took a 3-2 lead and finished the game victorious, 5-4.
Bucky Dent’s home run put the nail in the coffin for Red Sox nation. It took the wind out of their sails. It left Boston weary and gave them another reason to curse the New York Yankees. After practically being a shoe-in for first place and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, the Yankees late resurgence turned the season into a season and stirred up a rivalry that was practically idle and lopsided throughout the beginning of the 1978 season.
Bucky *Expletive* Dent.
Will the Red Sox ever find glory on this countdown? It’s a possibility. But I can’t promise anything.