Before the first pitch on the 115th Opening Day in New York Yankees history, the team will be commemorating the 40th Anniversary of their 1978 World Series Championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers. While most Yankees publications and websites will harp on the history of the 1978 World Series itself, I wanted to acknowledge another aspect of the ceremony. Two gentlemen with the same Boston fanbase nicknames, Bucky “Effin'” Dent and Aaron “Effin'” Boone will be in the stadium together, but for separate reasons. Boone of course is the manager for the Yanks and Dent, retired from Major League Baseball, was part of the 1978 championship. But both have had a massive impact in Yankees history, and both impacts provided misery for the Boston Red Sox.
Bucky “Effin” Dent
1978 was an interesting year for New York. They just won the World Series in 1977, beating the Dodgers in six games. Fast forward to July of 1978, and the Yankees were 14 games behind the Red Sox. Manager Billy Martin resigned due to a public spiff with superstar Reggie Jackson, and the Yanks hired new manager Bob Lemon. It sparked the team. So, much so that by Sept. 7, the Yanks were only four games behind the Sox. We know what happened next: The “Boston Massacre.” The Yankees went on to sweep a four-game series over Boston, and the Yanks and Sox sat atop the AL East tied. It was a miraculous turn around for New York.
Enter Oct. 2, 1978. At the middle of the season, no one thought the Yankees and Red Sox would be tied atop the AL East at 96-63, but it happened. Due to this, the Yankees and the Sox had to play a tie-breaker. Boston won the coin flip, and the game was played at Fenway Park.
Through six innings of the game, the Yankees have been held to only two hits by Red Sox starter Mike Torrez, a Yankee the year before. Ron Guidry was starting for the Bombers, and he gave up two runs through six innings. Then came the moment. The moment that earned Bucky Dent the nickname we all want from Boston, Bucky “Effin” Dent.
With one out in the seventh inning, the Yankees had two runners on base. Enter shortstop Dent, a man that only hit 40 home runs in his career. A man who was batting ninth in the Yankees lineup. A man who bashed just five home runs all season long. The man that hit a three-run home run off Torrez that sailed over the Green Monster to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
The Yankees went on to win the game 5-4 and were crowned AL East champions. Bucky “Effin'” Dent was born.
Aaron “Effin” Boone
Like Dent for the Yankees in 1978, there wasn’t much expectation from Aaron Boone in the 2003 American League Championship Series. Due to his struggles at the plate, Boone, a third baseman, didn’t even start Game 7. The Yanks opted to go with Enrique Wilson instead. Wilson wasn’t playing much better, but the Yanks had to switch things up.
The Red Sox and the Yankees were tied 3-3 in the eleventh inning. Cerebral knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was on the mound, a pitcher known to give the Yankees’ offense fits. Boone was in the game because he came into pitch run for Ruben Sierra after Sierra pinch hit for Wilson. No one expected Boone to do what he did next.
After a scoreless tenth inning, Tim Wakefield delivered one pitch to Boone in the eleventh. Boone harnessed his inner Bucky Dent and sailed one deep into left field. The Yanks won the game 4-3 and went onto the World Series. Aaron “Effin'” Boone was born.
The Yankees couldn’t have planned the ceremony at a better time. It’s like they hired Boone in the offseason knowing full well that they would be honoring the 1978 championship team this year. Honestly, they probably did know, but still! It’s like they wanted both “Effin’s,” if you will, on the field together. The only thing that would make it better is if the Yankees were playing the Red Sox and not the Tampa Bay Rays.