Bucky Dent became a Yankee on April 5, 1977, after having spent his first four major league seasons with the White Sox. The Yankees sent Oscar Gamble, LaMarr Hoyt, Bob Polinsky and $200,000 to the Sox for the 25 year old Dent, who had batted .246 with 2 home runs, 52 RBIs, and a .300 on base average in 1976. After Cincinnati swept the Yankees in the 1976 World Series, Mr. Steinbrenner’s team added Reggie Jackson, Don Gullett, Jimmy Wynn, and finally, Bucky Dent. It was felt that Dent would help solve the shortstop problem.
Fred Stanley and Jim Mason Shared Shortstop in 1976
In 1976, Fred Stanley and Jim Mason shared shortstop, with neither providing what was needed. Both had limited range, although Stanley was a sure handed fielder, and both were offensively challenged. The right handed hitting Stanley batted .238 with a home run, 20RBIs, and a .329 on base average, while lefty Mason batted an anemic .180, with a home run, 14 RBIs, and a .210 on base average. Dent had more range than either Stanley or Mason, and would provide a little more offense.
Fred Stanley Was Upset
Fred Stanley was not happy. There were rumors all spring that either Dent or Toby Harrah would be acquired, which Stanley believed would be a mistake. Competing with Mickey Klutts, who hit 24 home runs at the Yankees’ top minor league team at Syracuse, also rankled Stanley. “It annoys me, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I tied Frank Duffy for the best fielding percentage in the league (only 7 errors), I had a good on base percentage, I walked a lot and I took a lot of pitches so Willie Randolph could steal.” Stanley added that his on base percentage and fielding average were better than Dent’s.
Bucky Dent Takes Over
With Dent at shortstop, the Yankees won the pennant in 1977 and went on to win their first World Championship since 1962. Dent provided solid defense, playing 158 games. Offensively, he almost duplicated his last Chicago season, batting .247 with 8 home runs, which turned out to be his career high, 49 RBIs, and a .300 on base average. Fred Stanley remained with the Yankees, appearing in 42 game at shortstop, and he had a decent season, hitting .261 with an excellent .370 on base average. Mickey Klutts suffered a broken hand early in spring training and appeared in only 5 games.
A Second Consecutive World Championship
Nineteen seventy eight was a season of turmoil for the Yankees, as Billy Martin was replaced by Bob Lemon as manager and the Yankees and Red Sox finished the season with the same record, forcing a one game playoff for the division title. Bucky Dent hit his three run, go ahead home run in the seventh inning to erase a Boston 2-0 lead, as the Yankees won the game, 5-4, and again defeated Los Angeles to become World Champions.
Not a “Post Season” Home Run
Bucky Dent appeared against the Royals in 1977, 1978, and 1980 in what is now referred to as the American League Championship Series, but for many years, the series between the division winners was simply called the playoffs. When the leagues were split into three divisions in 1994, the first round eventually became the Division Series, and the second round the Championship Series. Bucky Dent never hit a home run in the post season, which is an amazing bit of semantics. His home run against the Red Sox is considered to have occurred in a game that was a tie breaker playoff, nota playoff for the pennant, but merely a game played for the right to get into the playoffs.
Bucky Dent played for the Yankees from 1977 until 1982, when he was sent to Texas for Lee Mazzilli on August 8. He signed with Yankees as a free agent in 1984, was released a month later, and after a brief stint in Kansas City, retired at the end of the 1984 season.
By MICHAEL STRAUSS Special to The New York Times (1977, April 6). Yankees Finally Acquire Dent, Trading Gamble and 2 Pitchers :Yanks Finally Acquire Dent From White Sox . New York Times (1857-Current file),43. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 75063261).
By MURRAY CHASS Special to The New York Times (1977, March 3). Klutts Getting a Shot at Stanley’s Job. New York Times (1857-Current file),41. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 75042472).
Bucky Dent at Baseball-Reference
1976 New York Yankees at Baseball-Reference