Major League baseball star Bill Buckner, whose excellence as a batter and in the field will forever be overshadowed by one of the game’s most infamous errors, has died.
Buckner was 69 and had been suffering from a form of dementia.
Buckner joined the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1969. In his 22 year-long playing career, Buckner won a National League batting title, was named to the 1981 All-Star team, and racked up 2,715 hits playing for the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, Angels, and Royals.
But it was one play in one game for which Buckner will always be remembered.
It was Game 6 of the 1986 World Series between Buckner’s Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets.
With the score tied in extra innings, the Mets’ Mookie Wilson hit a weak ground ball to first base that went straight through Buckner’s legs, allowing the winning run to score from third base. The Mets won Game 7 the next night and the World Series.
No single player can be responsible for an entire team’s failure to win — and there was no guarantee the Red Sox would have won the game and become world champions if Buckner had made the easy play.
But Buckner became the target of scorn from the Boston press and Red Sox fans all over the country.
When the Red Sox invited Buckner to throw out the first pitch at a 2008 games, forgiving fans gave him a two minute-long standing ovation. Buckner said the moment was “about as emotional as it could get.”
Buckner was a minor league hitting coach and also owned property and car dealerships in Idaho after retiring as a player in 1990.