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Feature Stories

The Buck Stops Here

Yankee hero Bucky Dent talks

life and baseball at Adelphi fundraiser

Baseball culture boasts nearly two centuries’ worth of players, coaches and fans of America’s greatest pastime.

That inseparable trio was on display Nov. 28 at the Chateau Briand in Carle Place as local icons Bucky Dent, Dom Scala and Ed Randall joined more than 300 attendees in supporting Adelphi University’s athletic programs and in celebrating the game of baseball.

“This event has become so special for the athletic department and the university. Student-athlete grade point averages remains higher than the undergraduate student population as a whole, graduation rates are tremendous and people are coming back with great jobs although the market is not good. This event is really a showcase of that,” said Robert Hartwell, assistant vice president and director of athletics at Adelphi.

Adelphi head baseball coach Dom Scala, bullpen coach for the 1978 World Series Champion New York Yankees, said the annual Fall Cocktail Reception has grown from approximately 70 guests five years ago to nearly 330 this year – thanks in part to the previous guest speakers featured at the event, including David Cone, Willie Randolph and Goose Gossage and Scala’s former roommate and teammate on the 1978 championship team, shortstop Bucky Dent.

“Bucky helped me understand how to be a major leaguer. He was quiet and respected because he took his job seriously. He worked hard and became not only a great player but also a great person and friend. He was the guy you wanted the ball to be hit to with two outs in the ninth inning,” Scala said.

Dent, who played in the majors for 12 seasons and was named World Series MVP in 1978, shared stories with one of the sharpest minds in baseball, Ed Randall (WFAN, ESPN Radio, Sirius XM, to name a few), on the “Panther Stage,” a recreation of the YES Network’s popular question and answer show, CenterStage.

Revered in Yankee folklore for his three-run home run in the 1978 division series against the Red Sox, Dent later went on to manage the Yanks for a portion of two seasons in 1989-90.

Dent recalled the first time he met George Steinbrenner at a Chicago Bulls game when Dent was first coming into the league as a player for the Chicago White Sox (Dent became a member of the Yankees three years later). Dent, a Georgia native, said he didn’t know anyone when he came to New York but soon befriended Mickey Rivers, while the first words he heard from then-Yankees manager Billy Martin were, “Great to have you – get a haircut,” noting the team’s longstanding clean-cut appearance rule.   

Randall mentioned that before his legendary homerun in the playoffs, Dent hadn’t homered in 138 at bats and was batting .140 through his previous 20 games. Randall was told that the historic homerun against the Red Sox at Fenway Park “cleared the wall by the size of a hamster,” to which Dent responded, “That’s all it needs – that’s the difference between ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ right there.”

Dent also noted that many aspects of the game have changed since he was a player, including the evolution of the power-hitting shortstop (starting with Cal Ripken), how the modern games last much longer, how the designated hitter takes away from the strategy of the game in the American League and how current players can’t “let loose” as a result of social media.

“Our team had a lot of fun. Even though we had some problems, we did a lot of fun things. Today I don’t think the guys do the things we do because they can’t. If they do something crazy, within five seconds, it’s on Twitter or YouTube, and I think that’s sad because we had a lot of fun back then,” Dent said.

After his playing career, one in which he earned two World Series rings, three All-Star nominations and a World Series MVP award, Dent managed in the minor leagues and was a bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds. He also opened a baseball school at Delray Beach, Fla., which features a miniature version of Fenway Park. The former Yankee, now 61, hopes to get back into baseball in some capacity in the near future.