When Bucky Dent hit a three-run home run to take the lead in the 1978 Yankees-Red Sox's one-game playoff, Dent became a New York legend and a Boston expletive.
Dent had been hitting .140 with no homers over his last 20 games. For the big hit, Dent borrowed his teammate Mickey Rivers' bat.
After 40 years, the question of whether Dent's bat was corked is still up for debate among fans. A new SI documentary called 14 Back, tells the story of the historic 1978 pennant race and addresses the controversy.
Dent came up to bat in the top of the seventh inning with two men on and two men out. After fouling a 1–and–1 pitch off his leg, Dent used Rivers' bat to belt a the three-run home run off Red Sox star Mike Torrez.
Several Yankees recounted the moment.
"Mickey Rivers tell him, 'Use my bat I got a good feeling,'" Lou Piniella said of the exchange with a smile.
River said he told the batboy to tell Dent "that it's got a home run in it."
"That other bat, that seemed to have some magic in it," Willie Randolph said laughing.
Red Sox players still have their doubts.
"They told me they put some cork in the bat," Luis Tiant says. "That's what they tell me. Mickey Rivers told me."
Fred Lynn still isn't sure.
"Those things happened in those days," Lynn said with a laugh. "I'm not saying that those guys did," he said with a shrug. "But those things did happen."
Rivers insists it was just magic.
"Nah no cork in the bat," Rivers said. "It was just lucky. I tell everybody; sometimes you just got to believe. I was just pulling for my homie."
After the homer, New York held on to the lead and won the game 5–4. The Yankees went on to win the World Series.
The film was released on SI TV on Sept. 20.