For Bucky Dent, baseball is a game of moments. One moment can shift the entire impetus of a game. A single instant can define a career.

For the past 37 years, Bucky Dent has been defined by one such moment. It’s a moment that made him a hero to Yankees fans. In Boston, it made him an enemy of the entire Red Sox nation.

Tomorrow morning, Bucky Dent will talk with the next generation of ball players at his annual baseball camp at Lake Oconee Academy in Greensboro, Ga. about the moment that came to define his career.

On a cool and crisp fall day in October of 1978, Dent etched his name into the history books with a long, deep fly ball that drifted just over the famous Green Monster at Fenway Park. The homerun sent the Yankees up 3-2 over the Red Sox in a one game playoff to decide the AL East Division.

But it nearly didn’t happen and it certainly wasn’t supposed to. In fact, Dent – then the number nine hitter with four homeruns on the season - borrowed a bat from fellow teammate, Mickey Rivers, to try and break his slump (He was averaging .140 in his previous 20 games.).

On the previous pitch, he’d fouled a ball directly off his foot. The same foot that had suffered from a blood clot throughout the season. That’s when a simple gesture from on-deck batter Mickey Rivers would lead to one of the most unforgettable moments in baseball history. “Hey Homey,” Rivers said to Dent as he nursed the sore foot. “You’re hitting with a cracked bat.”

With a new bat in hand, Dent took the plate. And with two runners on and two out, Mike Torrez threw a pitch and Bucky Dent connected. As it carried down the left field line, each inch it moved pulled more and more air out of Fenway Park. As it coasted over the fence, you could only hear the sound of Dent’s cleats pelting the baselines. “You could hear a pin drop in Fenway Park,” remembers Dent of the ’78 shot that stunned the Red Sox nation. “I think every kid dreams of hitting a big homerun that’s gonna win a ball game.”

Dent’s extension of the Red Sox curse was probably a bit more significant to the parents standing by at the Reynolds clinic than the kids, but that doesn’t bother Dent one bit.  He’s more concerned with sharing moments with the kids that cross his path each year than reliving his own fame. In fact, had he simply grounded out that fateful day in October of 1978, not much would have changed for the three time all-star and two time world champion.

Dent would undoubtedly have continued to bring baseball instruction to youth. And he would still be providing clinics such as this one for the kids of Reynolds Lake Oconee, where Dent and the general manager of the Bucky Dent Baseball School, Larry Hoskin, are current members and property owners. After all, these are the types of moments that Dent enjoys the most.

“I’ve been teaching for over 40 years at the Bucky Dent Baseball School. It’s a passion of mine,” explains Dent. “It was a vision I had a long time ago – when I was growing up in South Florida, about having a baseball school.”

Dent and long-time business partner Hoskin, a former minor leaguer with the Chicago Cubs organization, formed the Bucky Dent Baseball School in Fort Lauderdale in 1974. Dent was teaching infield and playing for the Chicago White Sox and Larry was running the school while playing minor league ball. The duo shared a passion for kids and instruction and the rest, well, is history.

Now located in Delray Beach, Fla., Dent’s school consists of a 25-acre campus that includes seven new fields, eight batting cages, a bullpen with six mounds and an infield training wall, bleachers, lighting, press box and more. Kids from ages five through high school and college level benefit each year from the hands-on instruction and various specialty clinics offered. More than 4,000 baseball players attend the Bucky Dent Baseball School each year.

And when the coaching duo isn’t focused on their specialty clinics, Dent and Hoskin also share another passion – the lifestyle here at Reynolds Lake Oconee. “We’ve been coming to Reynolds with our families, probably 25 years,” explains Dent. “We started a long time ago and we came on the discovery package and just loved it. We were looking at the time, Larry and me, to find a place that we could retire but that had everything that we wanted.”

It was a process that took a great deal of time for the coaching duo and their families, but in the end, there was one place that just kept calling them back. “We were looking around and looking around and we kept coming back here. It just has everything that we want. It has the golf, it has the fishing, and it has The Lake Club. It’s close to Atlanta, so if we have to travel someplace, back and forth, we can get to a major airport. Reynolds became a love of ours and we just absolutely love coming back here.”

Retirement looks as though it may be a bit of a wait as Dent continues to hone the skills of the baseball players of future generations. But when the time does come to hang up the cleats for good (or at least for a more extended period of time), he’s found the perfect place to do so.

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