Drafted but Unsigned Cardinal: Bucky Dent

Future New York Yankees all-star shortstop Bucky Dent did not sign after twice being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.

In this article, we introduce the fifth of the top 10 players once drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, but signed elsewhere and performed well. The covered period runs from the start of the modern draft in 1965 through 1980.

Few players in Major League Baseball history are more famous (or more despised, depending on who you ask) for one event than the man who launched that improbable three-run, go-ahead home run for the New York Yankees in the tiebreaker game at the end of the 1978 season, shortstop Bucky Dent (or as he is better known in New England, Bucky “F’n” Dent).

Few, if any remember that long before he became a Yankee, Dent was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals – not once, but twice – turning them down both times. He was first taken by the Cardinals in the ninth round of the 1969 amateur draft and again months later - in the first round of the secondary draft in January 1970 - with the sixth overall pick in the first round.

The Florida resident’s name was called a third time, in June 1970, this time by the Chicago White Sox, again with the sixth overall selection. This time, the former Miami Dade College star signed his name to his first professional contract.

Still just 21 years old in June 1973, Dent made his MLB debut on the South Side of Chicago. He finished second in the 1974 American League Rookie of the Year voting and was named to his first of three AL All-Star Teams the next year.

At the end of spring training 1977, Dent was shipped to the Yankees for outfielder Oscar Gamble, top pitching prospect LaMarr Hoyt plus another minor leaguer and $200,000 cash. The Bombers went on to win the World Series that fall.

After Dent’s aforementioned 1978 heroics, he continued his hot hitting in his second World Series. The right-handed swinger batted .417 and was named Most Valuable Player as the Yankees downed the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

Dent was named to two more All-Star Games, in 1980 and 1981, before being dealt to Texas in August 1982. Released by the Rangers at the end of 1984 spring training, the right-handed hitter was briefly re-signed by the Yankees, but did not appear in any games.

That August, he signed with Kansas City, completing the 1984 season and his MLB playing days in a Royals uniform. Dent finished his entire 12-year career in the American League with a line of .247/.297/.321/.618 and 17.4 bWAR.

After retiring, Dent was a minor league manager in the Yankees system and also led the big-league club briefly in 1989 and 1990 before getting the axe from petulant owner George Steinbrenner after just 89 games in the chair.

In 1991, 22 years after being drafted by St. Louis, Dent finally became a Cardinal, albeit as third base coach under Joe Torre, remaining through 1994. He later coached in the majors for the Rangers and Reds.

Stay tuned as the final five members of this team are named, in career bWAR order. For more details on the All-Drafted, but Unsigned Team, click here.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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