Former Yankees Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone walk onto the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Yankees playing against the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the ALCS on Oct. 20, 2010, at Yankee Stadium.

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Murti: Dent Relates To Aaron Boone's First Fenway Experience As Manager

Different Era But Same Hostility Awaits

Sweeny Murti
April 10, 2018 - 10:28 am
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Only one man knows how Aaron Boone will feel when he walks into Fenway Park as the manager of the Yankees.  And that’s the other guy who Boston fans long ago gave a middle name that rhymes with “trucking,” because of a famous October home run.

Bucky Dent became manager of the Yankees in August of 1989 and made his first trip to Boston in late September of that year. 

“It was different because as a player you just worry about yourself and get yourself ready to play,” Dent told me last week at Yankee Stadium.  “But when you go back as a manager there are a whole lot of different things that you’ve got to worry about.”

Dent, of course, hit a three-run homer just over the Green Monster off Mike Torrez in Game 163 at Fenway in 1978.  After being 14 1/2 games back in July, the Yankees completed the comeback that broke Boston hearts and pushed the Yankees back into the playoffs where they won their second straight World Series and a hot-hitting Dent was named Series MVP.

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Twenty-five years later, Boone’s home run off Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS sent the Yankees to the World Series in what turned out to be the last episode of Yankees dominance in the rivalry with Boston.

“Everything is basically the same as far as trying to win—trying to win as a player and trying to win as a manager,” Dent said.  “But it will be a different feeling for (Boone) because he’s in charge now of everybody.”

Boone enters this job in a much different way than Dent, who took over for Dallas Green for the final 40 games in 1989.  On Dent’s first trip to Boston, September 25th of that year, the Yankees were playing out the string in an 87-loss season, their worst mark in over 20 years. 

The Yankees lost two out of three in that series.  Dent’s Yankees dropped their first two games of his next trip to Boston in June 1990, which dropped their record to 18-31.  The next day Dent was fired.

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That’s right.  Bucky Dent was fired in Boston, the same place he achieved his signature moment as a player.

“It was tough,” Dent said.  “Nobody ever likes to get fired.  Actually when everybody says you got fired in Boston…yea, I got fired in Boston but that wasn’t the big thing.  The big thing was I got fired, you know?  It was a tough thing.”

Dent didn’t stand much of a chance with a franchise not just in transition, but in utter turmoil.

“In the six months that I was there I had four general managers,” Dent said.

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Also, the Yankees were in a stretch of four straight losing seasons and owner George Steinbrenner was about to be suspended by the commissioner for his part in the Dave Winfield-Howie Spira fiasco.

“There was no stability.  My experience was different than what Boone’s experience is going to be because he’s coming into it where he’s got a lot of stability, and he’s taking a team to Boston (this week) that has a chance to win the World Series.”

According to Dent, Boone’s biggest distraction will be dealing with everyone who wants to talk about his pennant-winning homer, and there will be no shortage of them—including us in the media.

“They want to bring back those moments because they are great moments,” Dent said, presumably referring only to the way Yankees fans perceive them.  “But now you’re in a different moment because you’re the manager and there are a lot of things on your mind.  But it’s history.  And it’s always history when you’re playing the Red Sox.”

As for trying to tune out all the, uh, colorful chatter coming from the stands at baseball’s most intimate setting, Dent doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“You do (hear the fans) during batting practice and when you’re walking around (the city),” Dent told me.  “People yell things to you and stuff like that.  But when the game starts you get locked in like you do as a player and you really don’t pay attention to it.  You tune it all out because you get focused on managing the game.”

Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN