Memorable Dinner with Bucky Dent — at Boston’s on the Beach
February 6, 2012 – I spent two days with Bucky Dent last week for a feature story on the former Yankees shortstop, which will be published in the July issue of Yankees Magazine.
The story will be about Dent’s life today, as well as his career with the New York Yankees.
These days, Dent lives about an hour north of Miami. He recently sold the baseball school that he owned for 37 years, and he spends a lot of time following the collegiate careers of his twin children. Dent’s son is an infielder for the University of Florida, and his daughter plays softball for North Carolina State University.
Along with being a dedicated father, Dent remains an avid fisherman, and he also plays a hands-on role in the planning of his annual charity golf tournament.
The Bucky Dent Invitational golf tournament took place on January 30.
On the day before the outing, Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello and I joined Dent and a few of his close friends on a fishing trip on the rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean.
At 6:30 a.m. we arrived at the Boca Raton, Florida marina where Dent’s friend docks his boat. By 8 a.m., we were a few miles off the shore, and everyone was catching fish.
Everyone but me, that is.
I was not catching fish because I instantly became sea sick.
A few hours into my saga, Dent encouraged me to grab a fishing pole and reel in the next fish.
Without much strength, I grabbed a first fishing pole I saw, got a bite and settled into the “fighting” chair. After about three minutes, I landed a Bonita, which is a type of tuna. It wasn’t the biggest fish I ever caught, and it was far from being the largest fish that anyone on the boat caught that day, but I was happy to have mustered up the strength to avoid getting shutout.
Dent and his friends landed several King Fish, mackerel and grouper, ranging in size from five pounds to 10 pounds, and I felt fine the moment we reached the dock.
Later that evening, Dent, his wife and few friends, joined my wife, Tiana, and I (see photo below) at an interesting dining location.
Since I was a young child, I have been frequenting a Delray Beach institution named Boston’s on the Beach. The ocean-side eatery is filled with memorabilia from each of Beantown’s sports teams, including the Red Sox.
When the idea of writing a feature story on Dent came about, I immediately began thinking about bringing Dent, whose home run in the Yankees’ one-game playoff against the Red Sox in 1978 is widely regarded as the most significant moment in the vaunted rivalry, to Boston’s on the Beach.
Dent accepted the invitation, and the evening was filled with great memories from the Yankees triumph in 1978, from Dent’s career and from our day on the ocean.
During our time there, Dent reflected on the home run that sunk the Red Sox and that has made him a household name in New York — and in New England.
“Because of what that day meant, there was more pressure than I’ve ever been under at any time,” Dent said. “But I was just trying to hit the ball hard, and I wasn’t really nervous at all.”
After dinner, Petrozzello took a photo of Dent standing in front of a large mural of Fenway Park’s Green Monster, which is located near the bar in Boston’s. Petrozzello asked Dent to lean against a table, which sat in front of the mural. The table was one of about six high-tops in the bar area, each of which featured a different Boston sports icon or team. After the photo was taken, Dent looked down at the table and noticed that we had randomly chosen a table that had a photo of Babe Ruth on it (see photo below).
The photo of Ruth was taken before he was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees. It was snapped before the Curse of the Bambino — which so many New Englanders attribute Dent’s home run to — was ever part of anyone’s imagination.
“That’s really funny,” Dent said. “Who would have thought I’d be posing for a photo with the Babe?”
The following day, Dent hosted his annual golf invitational. The proceeds of the outing are donated to the Miracle League, a program in which children with disabilities are given the opportunity to play baseball. Funds from the event are also donated to the Delray Beach American League, which is a youth baseball program that was founded in 1971 and that promotes the growth of baseball in the African-American community. Additionally, two collegiate scholarships are awarded, thanks to funds that the golf outing generates.
“Everything about the Miracle League is heartwarming,” Dent said. “It fulfills the dreams of so many young people who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to get out onto the baseball field. Over the last three years, we have been committed to helping them in any way we can.”
Petrozzello and I spent most of the afternoon with Dent on the course, observing him as he entertained friends and sponsors with the same kindness he gave us throughout the two days.
For the most part, my story will focus on Dent’s significant contributions to the local community over the past three decades, but I will be sure to include plenty of anecdotes about the unforgettable home run that Dent launched over the Green Monster — and a few tales from our time on the water.
–Alfred Santasiere III