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25 years ago

How an otherwise forgettable shortstop became a permanent Dent in Boston's heart

On the Monday marking the end of baseball's regular season 25 years ago, the Yankees and Red Sox squared off in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park for the AL East crown after Boston had come back to tie for the lead on the final day of the season after blowing a 6 1/2-game lead entering September.

But what could have been the memorable icing to the late-season comeback turned into a nightmare for Red Sox fans when light-hitting Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent lofted a three-run home run just over the Green Monster in the seventh inning to erase the Boston lead for good.

The players who were on the field at the time look back on the day and the moment.

Carl Yastrzemski smashes an 0-and-1 Ron Guidry fastball into the stands down the right-field line leading off the second for a 1-0 lead, and the lead grows to 2-0 in the sixth when Rick Burleson doubles into the corner, Jerry Remy bunts him to third, and Jim Rice delivers the run with a single. A bid for more is squelched when, with two runners aboard, New York's Lou Piniella makes a nice running catch of a Fred Lynn drive to the right field corner.

Mike Torrez enters the top of the seventh riding a two-hitter and the 2-0 lead. Chris Chambliss and Roy White both stroked one-out singles, and one-out later Bucky Dent comes to the plate. After fouling a ball off his foot, he switches to Mickey Rivers's bat, and with a 1-1 count turns on an inside Torrez pitch. With a little help from a wind that earlier in the game had been blowing in, the ball just clears the wall down the left-field line for a 3-2 Yankees lead.

Carrying a 4-2 lead into the eighth - after a walk to Rivers, a steal, and Thurman Munson double off reliever Bob Stanley followed Dent's blast - Reggie Jackson provides what would be the winning margin with a drive into the center-field bleachers off a 2-and-1 Stanley pitch in the eighth.

The Sox cut the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth off reliever Rich Gossage (who'd entered in the seventh), thanks to a Jerry Remy double and then singles by Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, and Lynn.

In the ninth, a one-out walk to Burleson gives Red Sox fans hope, and Remy lines a hit to right that has trouble written all over it. Yankees right fielder Piniella loses sight of it but goes ``to where I thought it would land,'' and stabs it just before it skips past him. Burleson, thinking Piniella had a chance to catch the ball in the air, stops at second, then moves to third on a Rice fly out. Yaz steps up with a chance to at least tie the game, but pops up a 1-0 pitch that Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles squeezes in foul territory behind third to give New York the AL East crown.

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