He called it, ¨The biggest moment of my career.¨And for the New York Yankees, it was one of the most dramatic and memorable moments ever. And thirty- five years later, it still stings Boston Red Sox fans like a red hot poker.
After 162 games of the 1978 season, the Yankees and Red Sox finished in a first place tie. The Yankees had overcome a double-digit Red Sox lead in the standings. The teams were set to meet on October 2 at Fenway Park in a one-game playoff.
Officially, the game was considered as the 163rd game of the regular season. But technicalities aside, it was one game with the winner moving on and the loser going home, or in this case, staying home. It was Ron Guidry, “Louisiana Lightning”, for the Yankees against Mike Torrez for Boston.
The Sox took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning. Carl Yastrzemski homered and Jim Rice added an RBI. That set the stage for Bucky Dent, who stepped up to the plate with two runners on base. It looked grim when Dent fouled a pitch off his ankle and hobbled around in pain. Manager Bob Lemon admitted that he wanted to pinch hit for Dent, but there was little to work with on the bench.
Dent stepped back in and promptly lofted a fly ball toward the Green Monster in left field. It wasn´t a rifle shot by any means. Instead, it floated toward the top of the wall like a balloon that got away. At first, Yankees fans wondered if it would even reach the wall to bring home two runs and tie the game. Red Sox fans hoped it would fall short and be caught on the warning track.
But it just kept going and going. And then it cleared the top of the wall by such a small amount, that for a moment it appeared as if it might have landed on the top of it. The Yankees went up 3-2, and then held on in the ninth for a 5-4 win.