1949 - 2019
Bill Buckner played for 22 seasons in the major leagues. He amassed over 2,700 hits, over 1,200 RBI, and scored over 1,000 runs. He had a career batting average of .289 and won a batting title in 1980. By any standard, Buckner had a career of great distinction, but guess what was in the first paragraph of every wire story and news outlet story of Buckner's death?
Yep, his error in the ninth inning of Game Six of the 1986 World Series that allowed the Mets to tie and then win that game and then win the World Series in Game Seven the next night. Buckner came to terms with that error, and accepted it as a sort of "shit happens" moment that can happen to any major league player. He even teamed up with Mookie Wilson, the Met who hit that ground ball, in later years by selling signed copies of photos of that fateful play at card and memorabilia shows. For sure he accepted it more readily than the Red Sox fans, who , in a classless manner typical of sports fans everywhere, excoriated him for years for that play.
I can remember that when the Red Sox finally won a World Series in 2004, someone asked Buckner if he thought that Boston fans would now forgive him for that play in 1986. I don't have the exact quote but Buckner said, in effect, "Forgive ME? I never did anything that deserves forgiveness. That's baseball." As I said, not an exact quote, but you get the gist. In the end, Bill Buckner was a classy guy.
Buckner died today at the age of 69, a victim of Lewy Body Dementia. It scares the hell out of me when someone only two years older than me falls prey to such a terrible illness.
RIP Bill Buckner.