WEST MILFORD It was one of the most memorable homeruns in Yankee baseball history. It came on Oct. 2, 1978 and soared over the Green Monster in Fenway Park putting the Yankees ahead of the Boston Red Sox in their one-game playoff to see who would be going on to the American League playoffs. The homer was hit by an unlikely Yankee - Bucky Dent. Dent was more of a defensive threat as a shortstop. But his handling of a Mike Torrez pitch made Dent an immortal in Yankee history.
On April 26, Dent will make an appearance at the West Milford Little League opening night where he will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. After that, Dent will meet with fans, take pictures and sign memorabilia as a fundraiser for the league.
Longtime Yankee fan and West Milford Little League American League Vice President Mark Minadeo is thrilled about having Dent here in West Milford to kick off the season.
"I am a huge Yankee fan," said Minadeo. "Introducing Bucky Dent is a dream come true."
Meeting him will be a dream come true for many Yankee fans and it will help the league pay its bills and maintain the fields on which they play. Fans wanting to have a picture and autograph from Dent will pay $20, which all goes to the league.
Banner year There are about 450 kids signed up for the West Milford Little League this year ranging from T-ball, instructional, junior minors, minors, majors and junior levels. Minadeo is encouraging all of the players to come out for the opening festivities wearing their team shirt and cap.
The players participating in the game will be announced by Minadeo and all players present will be asked to come out onto the field.
Macopin Middle School student Brooke Reilly will sing the National Anthem.
There will be raffles with donated prizes. And Outback restaurant will be selling food throughout the evening. All but $1 for each meal will be donated back to the league by Outback.
Sponsors makin' it happen The sponsors for the night include the West Milford Police Benevolent Association, Hubinger Landscaping, Jewelry Repair Center, Skyline Service Center and The Sports Authority.
The buzz about Bucky As most good Yankee fans know, 1978 was an excellent year for Dent. Fittingly, after the Boston playoff game, he went on to have an incredible World Series in 1978, being named the most valuable player. He was a favorite among Yankee fans on a team that came from 14 games back in July to tie the Red Sox and force that fateful playoff game. This three-time all star played four more seasons in the major leagues after that, most of them with the Yankees. He's managed in both the major and the minor leagues and runs the Bucky Dent Baseball School.
It will be a thrill to meet the man who lived every Little Leaguer's dream.