If Sarah Palin can gab about being in 2nd grade, then I can indulge about my childhood, too.
Because, tonight the last baseball game ever will be played in Yankee Stadium. And I will have to spend the rest of my life knowing that I had an opportunity to watch a live game there- against the Red Sox, no less- and I turned it down.
Yet my very favorite moment of Yankee history did not occur in the Bronx, but rather in Boston.
I give you: The 1978 ACL East Playoff Game:
http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com…I was 13 and had already decided that I was a Yankees fan. A hard call in Maine, but the Yanks had won the World Series the year before and both my father and grandfather were lifelong fans.
Then I saw Bucky Dent, and I was hooked. Other girls had crushes on Peter Frampton, Donny Osmond, Leif Garrett, Shaun and David Cassidy, the Bay City Rollers (did they even HAVE names??)- but for me, it was a little quick guy with a precise eye and arm.
Long before Dent hit this 3 run shot in Fenway, I was already a permanent fixture on the living room floor in front of the TV.
Then came the best damned game I have ever seen, on October 2, 1978:
— For two bitter rivals, it all came down to one game at historic Fenway Park. The winner would earn a trip to the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals; the loser would go home with 99 wins — and nothing to show for them.
In mid-July, the Red Sox were cruising toward first place in the AL East with a 14-game lead over the Yankees. But then New York replaced the irascible Billy Martin with the more easygoing Bob Lemon, and the Yankees soared into first.
The Red Sox contributed with their own poor play, most notably four straight September blowout losses to the Yanks forever known as the “Boston Massacre.” Only their eight consecutive victories to end the season allowed the Sox to finish tied with the Yanks at 99-63.
So the teams battled for win No. 100, as well as a shot at the Pennant, in a rare 163rd game of the regular season.
To start the seventh, shortstop Bucky Dent strode to the plate following back-to-back singles by Roy White and Chris Chambliss. After a foul ball off his foot caused a visit from the trainer, Dent borrowed teammate Mickey Rivers’ bat to send a 1-1 pitch from Torrez — who laments that he took no warm-up pitches after the delay — just over the Green Monster in left to give the Yanks a 3-2 lead.
Though his homer wasn’t even the game winner, the light-hitting Dent — who hit only four other homers that season, and 40 total over his 12-year career — was clearly the hero. Dent, who would go on to earn the World Series MVP Award that year, may not have even batted had second baseman Willie Randolph not been injured. But without enough infielders available as replacements, the Yankees let Dent swing away into history.
A decade later (almost to the DAY), my then new boyfriend now husband offered, on the day he first proposed to me, to either take me to see the Yankees play the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, or to see the Giants play LA in the Meadowlands.
As we were both Giants fans and would have been rooting for opposite baseball teams, I picked the Meadowlands. The Giants lost 21-3, as Phil Simms threw more interceptions than completions.
At one point, Charlie (who has quite a voice when he chooses to use it, having been Army-trained as a news broadcaster) stood up from our seats in the upper level end zone and bellowed, “Blue, Phil! We’re wearing BLUE!!!” Simms turned to see who was heckling him and I fell instantly in love with this incredibly sweet, kind, intelligent man who happened to be a huge smartass.
Yes, the Giants are starting off this year 3-0, their best start since 2000. And the Red Sox, who I really like watching now, have clinched a tie for playoffs (the Steinbrenner years and antics have waned my enthusiam, I’m sorry to say).
But oh, to go back and have the opportunity to have gone to the Cathedral…