As it turns out, Bucky Dent’s middle name is NOT “Fucking.” In fact he was born Russell Earl O’Dey. But Russell Fucking O’Dey doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I wonder what Bucky Dent’s legacy is going to be moving forward. Stop and think about that. The whole Curse of the Bambino thing has been over for 13 years.
If you use “The Rule of Seven”, then there are 20 year old kids in college who have no memory of the Red Sox NOT being a World Champion or the Yankees being the eternal tormentors of all of New England.
The whole concept of a villain like Bucky Dent making a fan base shudder is recency but also the idea that the wrong has not been righted.
Compiling all the horrible events between 1918 and 2004 allowed named like Bucky Dent to be compounded. It helped that Bucky and Buckner not only sounded similar but also sounded like a certain word that rhymes with Buck that a lot of Red Sox fans would mutter.
But with the 2004 title, the Curse became a thing of the past. And with 2007 and 2013, it became clear that not only was the Curse a thing of the past but there was healing.
If 2004 was a direct answer to 2003, Aaron Boone and Grady Little, then 2007 wiped out 1986 and 2013 took care of 1978. All Red Sox fans need is the corresponding title to 1975, 1967 and 1946 and all is taken care of.
Young fans might not understand exactly how powerful Bucky Dent was. But also consider, I was too young to REALLY remember 1978. I remember the red hats and the players, but 6 year old Sully didn’t understand the pennant race etc. I didn’t understand how the Red Sox blew a gigantic lead, allowed the Yankees to pull off the 4 game sweep in September only to see Boston finish the season with a wild winning streak to force a one game playoff.
And I didn’t understand the cruelty of not only losing the one game playoff by one run and with the winning runs on base, but that the entire game hinged on a 2 out fly ball homer by the lightest hitting member of the Yankees on a ball that would have been caught in any other park.
As I wrote in a post in 2015, historically, that loss still stings. So many great Red Sox could have received their rings in 1978. But that sting is getting more and more distant as a generation of Boston fans have grown up expecting a championship at least every other year.
He was raised by his mother’s brother and adopted the name Dent in Georgia. He later moved to Florida and was drafted by the White Sox. He was an adequate shortstop, arriving in White Sox camp as a 21 year old in 1973. By 1974, he had supplanted Hall of Famer Luis Apparcio.
He made the 1975 All Star team and was a steady player. But the pressure of replacing a legend was not pleasant to Dent. He needed to go somewhere where the fans could be easier on him and he’d have less pressure.
Before the 1977 season started, he was traded to the Yankees, the same place where George Steinbrenner, Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin turned the clubhouse into a tabloid newspaper paradise.
Circumventing the lunacy, Dent made a nice double play combination with Willie Randolph and helped the Yankees win the 1977 World Series.
In 1978, he was serviceable as the shortstop but only had 4 homers in the entire season before showing up to Boston for the one game playoff.
His hot hitting extended into the World Series where he batted .417 and was named the MVP. (It should have been Reggie but I digress.)
He made a few more All Star teams but was traded away to Texas in time for this Fleer Card to be printed. (I barely remember that logo for the Rangers.)
After a few games with the Royals in 1984, he called it a career, briefly resurfacing as the Yankee manager in 1989 and 1990.
So now he goes on, a fading specter and a ghost who has lost his haunting powers. The more sports curses are broken, as we saw with the White Sox, the Cubs and the city of Cleveland, the more their tormentors are weakened.
Dent will always be beloved in Yankee Stadium. The glory of victory is eternal. The fear of the conqueror is no longer as great if you’ve done some conquering since then.