Not long after he became a co-owner of the Red Sox, Haywood Sullivan, a former catcher with the team, became the club's general manager and served in the position until Lou Gorman replaced him on February 1, 1984. In Sullivan's first year, the Red Sox and Yankees found themselves tied at the end of the regular season, necessitating a one-game playoff that is remembered for Bucky Dent's crushing home run and a bitter Boston defeat. From 1979 through 1983, the team won 53% of their games but failed to make much progress.
In the early 1980s, a struggle developed with Sullivan and Mrs. Yawkey opposing fellow owner Buddy LeRoux. However, the courts ruled in favor of Sullivan and Mrs. Yawkey and they retained control of the club. Sullivan wisely determined that his dual role as owner-GM was too much and in January 1984 Lou Gorman was hired as general manager. Many of the players signed under Sullivan began to blossom in the years that followed his tenure - in this case, the likes of Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst and Bob Stanley drove the Red Sox to the 1986 AL pennant.