Editor’s note: Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912. NESN.com will be celebrating Fenway’s 100-year anniversary with unique content from now until April 20, 2012.
Bucky Dent. Thirty-three years later, the name still brings horror to Red Sox fans.
Dent's homer in the top of the seventh of the 1978 do-or-die, one-game playoff at Fenway Park gave the hated Yankees a postseason berth once again, despite Boston's 99 regular-season wins.
It was one of the Red Sox' best teams that didn't make the playoffs, thanks in part to a sluggish July.
Jerry Remy and Dennis Eckersly, both NESN analysts now, were acquired in separate offseason trades and helped the Sox to a near division title. Management also signed 1977 World Series MVP Mike Torrez to bolster the pitching rotation.
Jim Rice continued to lead Boston, earning the 1978 AL MVP after becoming the first AL player to collect 400 total bases in a season since Joe DiMaggio did it 41 years earlier.
The Sox, thanks to Rice and Co., took a commanding lead in the AL East and led the division by 10 games by mid-July. They balooned their lead to 14 games at one point, but late injuries to Dwight Evans and Remy crippled the Sox.
It led to one of the worst series in Red Sox history — a four-game set that later became known as "The Boston Massacre."
In early September at Fenway Park, New York outscored Boston, 42-9 in the series, easily taking all four games. The sweep shrunk Boston's commanding lead from seven games to three with three weeks to go.
The Yankees closed the gap by the end of the season setting up the winner-take-all game at Fenway.
That's when Buck hit his homer — a shot Boston fans may never forget.
The Red Sox built a two-run lead before Buck's home run. They forged a mini-comeback, but a great grab by Yankees outfielder Lou Piniella ended the game and Boston's playoff dreams.
It was the third time in seven seasons that the Sox barely missed out on the playoffs.
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