COMMERCE — Bucky Dent, who may be best known for his three-run homer that helped the New York Yankees beat Boston in the 1978 American League East tiebreaker game, will be the special guest at the 19th annual Mickey Mantle Classic.
The tournament will be held April 2-7, 2018, at Mickey Mantle Field here and Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin.
Dent is the ninth former Yankee who has been a guest at the high school wooden bat tournament, including Bobby Richardson, Johnny Blanchard, Don Larsen, Bob Turley, Tom Tresh, Goose Gossage, Graig Nettles, Gaylord Perry and Ron Guidry.
Other guests have been Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal, Rollie Fingers, Willie Wilson, Andre Dawson and last year’s speaker, Bret Saberhagen.
Dent broke into MLB with the Chicago White Sox in 1973 and was dealt to the Yankees in 1977 in exchange for Oscar Gamble, LaMarr Hoyt, a minor leaguer and $200,000.
He spent six seasons with the Yankees, playing on two World Series championship teams (1977 and 1978, when he was the MVP).
The home run in the playoff game was one of only 40 he hit in his 12-year career, but it staked the Yankees to a 3-2 lead.
They went on to top the Sox 5-4 then advanced to the World Series, where they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.
Dent spent the 1982 and 1983 seasons with the Texas Rangers then wrapped up his career in 1984 with the Kansas City Royals.
Dent was a three-time American League All-Star (1975, 1980 and 1981)
He finished with a career .247 batting average while driving in 423 runs.
Dent succeeded Dallas Green as the Yankee manager in 1989 but was replaced by Stump Merrill 49 games into the 1990 season.
His firing in 1990 by the irascible Steinbrenner came at Fenway Park — the site of his greatest moment as a player.
From 1991 to 1994, Dent served on the coaching staff of the St. Louis Cardinals under manager Joe Torre — who went on to lead the Yankees to four World Series wins.
He originally was drafted by St. Louis but didn’t sign.
After Torre’s firing by the Cardinals, Dent moved to the Texas Rangers, where he coached from 1995 to 2001.
In 2002, he was manager of the Royals Triple A affiliate at Omaha.
His last job in baseball was a stint as bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds from 2005 to 2007.
Downstream Casino and Resort is the main sponsor for Dent’s appearance.
Other tournament sponsors are Gallagher Bomford Couch/Wilson, Chapters and the Joplin Sports Authority.