BLOOMINGBURG, NY – As men are prone to do while sitting around the bar, the conversation often shifts to sports and the other night exactly that happened. The name Mickey Rivers came up. It got me thinking of those Bronx Zoo Yankee years and some of Rivers’ teammates while he was with the club. For some ridiculous reason I thought of Bucky Dent and him cashing in on his one moment of glory and getting great mileage off of that one home run in Boston during the one-game playoff in 1978.
Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent was a very light stick, all-glove shortstop back in an era where your middle of the diamond fielders were asked to be sound defensively with the leather. Sure, Dent had his star shine a few times over a pedestrian twelve-year career as a three time All-Star and World Series MVP but he will always be remembered for that one dinger with a bat borrowed from Mick The Quick.
There have been other Big Apple Sports Heroes with light resumes who are fondly remembered for their role in one specific moment in time on the biggest of stages around these parts. Let’s examine a few more Bucky F***ing Dents among them.
The play was one which usually gets blown dead when you have a quarterback with the mobility of a late third trimester woman after satisfying a craving at an all you can eat buffet. Eli Manning will never be mistaken for a Steve Young or Lamar Jackson, who get the luxury from NFL referees of extending plays with their feet due to their escapeability. We know what happened in Super Bowl XLII against the Pats when an under duress Manning heaved the ball to Tyree, who caught the ball against his head to continue the game-winning drive. This is what Tyree’s resume looks like over seven seasons: 54 catches, 650 yards, 4 touchdowns. How did he last that long in this league with numbers like that? And the Jersey native parlayed that one catch into a job as Director of Player Development for guess who? The obviously extremely grateful New York Giants.
Hey, it happened in upstate New York so I’m including it. Seems like most of these have New England ties and Eruzione is no different, having played locally for Boston University. A left winger who wasn’t even thought highly enough to be drafted by the NHL (was selected by the Whalers of the WHA however in 1974) he was the captain of that magical team who beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympics, while infamously shooting of the wrong foot to score the goal that slayed the commies. Many of Rizzo’s gold medal teammates went on to NHL careers, however short some of them may have been, while he toiled shortly in the minor leagues of the AHL and IHL. Forty years later he wrote a book about his moment in the sun and the opportunities he gained from his education and that one goal.
He played in 85 games over two and a half seasons for the New York Rangers and is only remembered for one goal like Eruzione similarly making the play-by-play announcer’s call epic. Howie Rose owes Matteau, Matteau, Matteau! a couple of bucks off the bottom six forward’s exploits that catapulted the Rangers to their 1994 Cup run after the seventh game heroics against the Devils in the Conference Finals. Matteau was 11G, 10A during his Ranger tenure. Far from even ordinary as his six team NHL stint will attest, Matteau is forever ingrained in the mind’s of New York’s hockey faithful.
Mookie Wilson. Honorable Mention:
Got any you can think of? Leave a comment for discussion and come back tomorrow for Junoir Blaber, who undoubtedly be 3-4 hours late with this column.