May 27, 2019

Bill Buckner Has Died At Age 69

Matt Kelly,
"Bill Buckner, a sweet-swinging left-handed batter who amassed more than 2,700 hits in a career that spanned four decades ... died Monday at age 69.

Buckner was battling Lewy body dementia and was surrounded by his family before his passing, his wife, Jody, told ESPN. He was a beloved teammate and valuable infielder and outfielder for the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, Angels and Royals over 22 Major League seasons from 1969-90. ...

Buckner would also show his sense of humor, making fun of his famous error in a cameo on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." He partnered with Wilson in numerous public appearances in the decades that followed. ...

Buckner finished his career with 2,715 hits and a near identical number of walks (450) as strikeouts (453). His 1,994 singles rank among the top 50 totals in Major League history."
Kelly notes (as will just about every other sportswriter) that Buckner "ultimately was forgiven" for his 1986 World Series error and received
a standing ovation upon his return to the [Red Sox] via free agency in 1990, and he later helped unfurl the Red Sox's 2007 World Series championship banner to a huge ovation during the club's home opener the following season.
But Kelly - and every other sportswriter - has his 1986 history completely wrong.

Red Sox fans did not wait 21 years to forgive Buckner. They gave him a huge ovation during a public rally for the team in Boston on October 29 ,1986, two days after the team lost the World Series.

On October 30, 1986, the Associated Press reported that "hundreds of thousands of fans ... offered prolonged cheers for first baseman Bill Buckner".

Peter Gammons wrote in Sports Illustrated (November 10, 1986):
The Hub Hails Its Hobbling Hero

He awakened on the morning after the morning after, knowing that he had two more rivers to cross. First, there was a parade in downtown Boston. ... As he started to get out of bed, he heard some mention of the Mets' parade on the radio. "More than two and a half million people honored the world champions yesterday in New York," said the announcer, "and the parade finished with the Mets' team bus going through Bill Buckner's legs."

"Here I just experienced the best year of my life with a team, and I feel rotten," Bill Buckner said to his wife, Jody, as they drove down Route 93 toward Boston last Wednesday morning. "This whole city hates me. Is this what I'm going to be remembered for? Is this what I've killed myself for all these years? Is a whole season ruined because of a bad hop? I've got to go through the humiliation of this parade, partly because I know I don't deserve it. Oh well, there'll only be two or three players and about 50 people who'll show up to boo us." ...

It was a crystal-clear autumn morning ... when the truck neared Copley Square, he saw that the street was lined with faces and banners as far as he could see. Buckner had asked not to speak at the rally at City Hall Plaza, and so he stood at the end of the stage. But when he heard the ringing one-minute ovation that followed his name, Buckner stepped forward and thanked the crowd.

"That was the most incredible experience of my career," he said to Jody ...


johngoldfine said...

Dementia. Fuck, awful.

Paul Hickman said...

As long as the game is played by human beings there will always be mistakes ( & politics ! )

True Fans of Sport understand that & will always forgive & support those who gave their best & people have a way of "misremembering history" too

In 86 it simply wasn't meant to be & many mistakes were made - it always amused me that the 86 became "another number" 18 years later

Bill had a hall of fame career( maybe ?) & contributed much to many & nobody should be persecuted like he was ...... He deserved so much better & dementia is such a horrible disease that I have seen right up close - NOBODY deserves that

RIP Bill

FenFan said...

I had no idea that Bill Buckner had been suffering from dementia. What a cruel way to go; I truly hope he and his family are at peace.

Any Red Sox fan with an ounce of decency knows that Buckner was not the goat of the World Series that fall. So many things went wrong for Boston after they got those two quick outs in Game Six, and the error at first was the unfortunate conclusion. Of course, the Sox had a chance in Game Seven to win it, but failed that night, too.

Years ago, there was an interview of Buckner published in a Wall Street Journal. Within the article, I distinctly remember Buckner sharing the story of a reporter who approached him after Donnie Moore committed suicide in 1989 (Moore gave up the home run to Dave Henderson in the 1986 ALCS) and asked whether he had ever contemplated doing the same.

Some sportswriters today are offering awkward tributes to Buckner, the same ones who whenever something goes wrong have to remind everyone of what happened to a certain veteran first baseman in the 1986 World Series (CHB, I'm looking at you). All you can do is shake your head...

John said...

Buckner took the heat for Gedman’s passed ball and horrible in game manager decisions. Even if he fielded the ball cleanly, Bob Stanley’s fat @55 never would have beat Mookie to first.

allan said...

CHB wrote a column for Tuesday that said (as I understand it, anyway; I'm not reading it) Buckner did not deserve to be a goat. That curly-haired asshole has some fuckin set of balls. ... A shot of Buckner immediately after the Game 6 error was the cover photograph on CHB's infamous book. But it's not like the dead guy is gonna point your disgusting hypocrisy and smarmy, snarky kiss-ass-ness, right, Dan? ... What a loathsome human being.

allan said...

When I was still in New York, I went to an event with Buckner and Wilson signing baseballs and photos. I don't display it, but I do have a baseball signed by both of them.

allan said...

SoSHer Deweys New Stance:
"I haven't read that book in nearly 30 years, but I still recall a section where Shank claims Buckner voted before the '86 postseason to stiff the clubhouse attendants and batboys out of playoff shares, and gloated in the clubhouse about how he was going to use his playoff shares to buy a flashy new sports car. Shank claimed that Marty Barrett and a couple teammates were aghast and tried to make it up the clubhouse staff. The clear point of the story was to paint Buckner as a greedy jerk and a villain who got what he deserved with the Game 6 outcome. For Shaughnessy to now attempt to scold others for the way Buckner was treated for decades in the media is vile."