COMMERCE — Bucky Dent is 0-for-2 on first pitches in 2018, but in true New York Yankees’ style, put an asterisk by that.
Dent and former teammate Mickey Rivers were to handle honors at the Yankees’ home opener Monday, April 2, against Tampa Bay, but the game was postponed because of snow.
They finally were able to take care of things the following day, but Dent wasn’t as lucky Saturday, April 7: the final day of the Mickey Mantle Classic, where he was to handle first-pitch honors, was wiped out — by snow.
“It was quite an honor — we got the Pride of the Yankees award at a dinner Monday night,” Dent said Saturday. “It’s been a special week for me, being able to do that, then come to be a part of this event.”
Dent and Rivers were part of a celebration commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Yankees’ 1978 World Series season.
“That ‘NY’ and pinstripes represent pride and tradition,” Dent said Saturday. “You can go anywhere in the world and they know what that ‘NY’ is. It’s quite an honor to be part of that tradition.”
This is Dent’s second trip to Ottawa County in just over three months. He was the featured speaker at RBI Miami’s Snowball Classic.
This time, he got a chance to see more snow as well as the hometown of his boyhood hero: Mickey Mantle.
“When I was 10 years old, he was my hero,” said Dent, who played six seasons with the Bronx Bombers then spent part of the 1989 and ’90 seasons as their manager.
“It’s just a great honor,” he said of being the special guest at the 19th annual Mantle Classic.
Dent is the 10th former Yankee to appear here.
Mantle teammates Bobby Richardson, Johnny Blanchard, Don Larson, Bob Turley and Tom Tresh as well as former Yanks Goose Gossage, Graig Nettles, Gaylord Perry and Ron Guidry have appeared in the past
“He was one of the greatest players to ever wear the uniform,” Dent said. “To be a part of that is very special.”
Mantle joined the Yankees in 1951 and by the time he retired in 1968, he blasted 536 home runs and was part of seven World Series championship teams.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
“He played the game with a tremendous passion,” Dent said. “He was an awesome player who represented the Yankees. Back then, it was Mantle, (Roger) Maris and (Yogi) Berra. I still get awed when I walk into that stadium (Yankee Stadium) and realize I put the uniform on that all the greats did.
“It’s something that you don’t ever forget.”
Dent’s appearance was sponsored by Downstream Casino and Resort.
Jim Ellis is sports editor of the Miami News-Record. He can be reached by phone at 918-542-5508 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mnrsportsguy.