I was a player with the White Sox on the last day of spring training in ’77, getting ready to go to Toronto to open up their franchise.
The phone rang—I was putting a box in the car—and I ran back in and answered the phone. I heard this crowd in the background and this voice, and it says, "Bucky Dent?" I said, "Yeah." He goes, "This is George Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees." And I went, "Get outta here!"
"No," he says, "this is George Steinbrenner," and he says, "I have a deal that will bring you to New York as a player if you’ll agree to a contract."
It took me about five minutes.
Nick Buoniconti was my agent at the time; I told Mr. Steinbrenner, "I’ll call you right back." I hung up and called Nick, and he called, and five minutes later they called back and said I was a Yankee.
That was a very special moment, one that I’ll always remember. Unbelievable.
Mr. Steinbrenner was a tremendous competitor, a guy that demanded excellence from you. You knew the bottom line when you were going to be a Yankee back then. The bottom line was you’re coming in there, and you’re going to win.
He was going to let you know about it if you didn’t play the way he wanted you to play.
Dent, an All-Star Yankees shortstop, was the 1978 World Series MVP.
— As told to Bob Hille