Friday, November 18, 2011

Familiar Faces / Strange Places: Bucky Dent / Royals

Drafted twice (but never signed) by the St. Louis Cardinals, the White Sox drafted Bucky Dent in the first round (6th overall) out of Miami-Dade Junior College in the 1970 draft. After three years in the minors he was called up to Chicago midway through the 1973 season. His first career hit was an infield single off Fred Scherman at Tiger Stadium on June 13th, 1973 (his teammate Dick Allen went 3 for 3 that day).

In 1974 he replaced Eddie Leon as the starting shortstop for the White Sox and played well enough to finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Mike Hargrove. In 1975 his star continued to rise as he was selected for the All-Star Game. in 1976 his batting average had declined and pending free agency -- the Sox traded him to the New York Yankees for Oscar Gamble, LaMarr Hoyt, and Bob Polinsky prior to the start of the 1977 campaign.

He won World Series ring as the shortstop for the 1977 Bronx Zoo Yankees. The next season, on October 2, 1978 Bucky Dent entrenched himself into baseball history and earned the wrath of Red Sox fans forever. During the one-game AL East playoff in Boston, he hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning off Mike Torrez (his teammate from the '77 Yankees). The Yankees took the lead with his improbable HR (it was only his 5th of the season and 23rd of his career) and went on to win the game 5-4. He went on to win the 1978 World Series Most Valuable Player, hitting .417 with 7 RBI in a six-game win over Dodgers.

As a living Yankee legend, Dent was elected as the starting shortstop on the 1980 and 1981 All-Star teams. In 1982, in the midst of a hitting slump (he was batting .169) he was traded to the Rangers for Lee Mazzilli. He spent the remainder of 1982 and the 1983 season in Texas, where he led AL shortstops in fielding percentage.

The Rangers released him before the start of 1984 season. In June, he signed a minor league deal with the Yankees but he was released a month later. He signed with the Kansas City Royals in August and 11 games and 3 singles later, his big league career was over. His last hit (September 9th, 1984) was an RBI single off of the Mariners Mark Langston.


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