Bill Buckner: Wikis

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Bill Buckner

Bill Buckner at Wrigley Field on June 10, 1981
First baseman
Born: December 14, 1949 (1949-12-14) (age 60)
Vallejo, California
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
September 21, 1969 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
May 30, 1990 for the Boston Red Sox
Career statistics
Batting average     .289
Hits     2,715
Home runs     174
Runs batted in     1,208
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • All-Star selection (1981)
  • Led NL in batting average in 1980 with .324

William Joseph "Bill" Buckner (born December 14, 1949) is a former Major League Baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, California Angels and Kansas City Royals. His playing career lasted over twenty years and he accumulated over 2,700 career hits. However, despite his productive career, he has gained infamy for his crucial fielding error during Game Six of the 1986 World Series, a play that has since been prominently entrenched into American sports lore.

Contents

Career

Buckner was born in Vallejo, California, United States. He graduated from Napa High School. He was the second player chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1968 June Draft (after his friend Bobby Valentine was selected first). Before entering MLB, Buckner briefly attended the University of Southern California, where he never played sports. While at Southern California he became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Buckner played his first major league game in 1969 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (at the age of 19) and his last game in 1990 (at the age of 40) with the Boston Red Sox. He won the National League batting title in 1980 with the Chicago Cubs. He was an All-Star in 1981. Buckner was the first major league player to wear Nike high-top baseball cleats professionally, preceding by a number of years the waves of major leaguers wearing high-tops starting in 1989.

For his entire career, "Billy Buck" was known as one of the more consistent contact hitters in the major leagues: in 2,517 games, Buckner accumulated 2,715 hits and only 453 strikeouts. He led the league four times in most at bats per strike out (1980, 1982, 1985, 1986), and four times placed second in the category (1979, 1981, 1983, 1987).

As a player he was a speedy baserunner who twice finished in the top-ten in the league in stolen bases. He twice led the league in doubles. After a serious ankle injury in the early 70's while playing for the Dodgers, which affected him for much of his career, Buckner never was the same type of base runner. In the remaining years of his career, Buckner endured extensive daily therapy and icing of his ankle in order to maintain his high level of playing standards for another decade and a half.

Originally promoted to the majors as an outfielder, he moved to first base when he joined the Cubs to take pressure off his ankles. At that position, he played 1,555 regular season games and made only 128 errors in 13,901 chances. Despite his ankle problems, he managed to post respectable stolen-base numbers in 1981 (15) and 1982 (12) with the Cubs and 1985 (18) with the Red Sox.

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1986 World Series

Game 6: Ray Knight (not pictured) scores the winning run as Bill Buckner and Bob Stanley watch Mookie Wilson's slow roller.

Buckner was a key member of the team in 1986. He hit 8 home runs that September, with 22 RBIs and a .340 average, missing three games. He drove in over 100 runs for the season. In Game 5 of the Championship Series when the Red Sox faced elimination, he singled to start their ninth inning rally, which was capped off by Dave Henderson's famous home run.

On October 25, 1986, the Boston Red Sox faced the New York Mets in Game 6 of the World Series. Boston led the best-of-7 series 3 games to 2, and had a two-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning. Instead of defensive replacement Dave Stapleton playing 1B for Buckner and his hurting knees (the 1986 post-season pattern for Red Sox when leading in the last inning), Boston manager John McNamara had Buckner take the field in the bottom of that tenth inning. Subsequently, New York came back to tie the game with three straight singles off Calvin Schiraldi and a wild pitch by pitcher Bob Stanley. Mookie Wilson fouled off several pitches before hitting a ground ball to Buckner at first base. The ball rolled under Buckner's glove, through his legs, and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run, forcing a seventh game, which the Mets won. The error capped off a very poor Game 6 performance; Buckner went 0-for-5, with runners on base in all five at-bats.

Retirement and legacy

After Buckner retired from professional baseball he moved his family to Boise, Idaho, where he invested in real estate. One of the housing subdivisions which he developed is named Fenway Park. He lent his name to and was a minority owner of a local car dealership, Bill Buckner Motors in Emmett, Idaho, which was in business from 2006 to 2008.[1]

The "Buckner Ball" was later auctioned for $93,000. The high bidder was Charlie Sheen. The ball is now in the collection of songwriter Seth Swirsky, who refers to it as the "Mookie Ball." Buckner and Mookie Wilson have become business partners to some extent, attending autograph shows together and signing copies of a photo of the 1986 play that linked the two players.

Buckner also played a supporting role in another baseball milestone. As left fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Buckner climbed the fence in an attempt to catch Hank Aaron's 715th home run on April 8, 1974. Thirty-four years to the date later, on April 8, 2008, Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch to former teammate Dwight Evans at the Boston Red Sox home opener against the Detroit Tigers, as they unfurled their 2007 World Series Championship Banner. He received a 4 minute standing ovation from the sell-out crowd. After the game, when asked if he had any second thoughts about appearing at the game, he said, "I really had to forgive, not the fans of Boston, per se, but I would have to say in my heart I had to forgive the media for what they put me and my family through. So, you know, I've done that and I'm over that."[2]

References in popular culture

  • Boston poet John Hodgen wrote a poem titled "Forgiving Buckner." The poem begins, "The world is always rolling between our legs..." [3]
  • In Boston, the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge has acquired the nickname "The Bill Buckner Bridge" because cars pass unimpeded through the bridge's Y-shaped "legs."[4][5]
  • In the film Rounders, Matt Damon's character, Michael McDermott, references Buckner when he returns to an underground poker game where he had lost $30,000 at the beginning of the film. In his voice over, McDermott says, "I feel like Buckner walking into Shea." [6]
  • In the film Fever Pitch, Jimmy Fallon's character uses Buckner's error as one of the examples of the "Curse of the Bambino" to his new girlfriend (Drew Barrymore), but can't explain it, and can only blurt out the name, "Buckner!" as his friends all moan at the memory. Later, having lost her, he sits alone in his apartment, replaying the error over and over again on his VCR. His friends, worried about him, break into his apartment, and see it, and one yells, referencing the videotape of the game, "I thought you took that away from him!" He takes it out of the VCR, and asks Fallon's character if he has any more videos of Red Sox disasters: "Where's your stash?"
  • On October 23, 2008, during former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan's testimony in House hearings on the Economic crisis of 2008, Rep. John Yarmuth (D.Ky) referred to Greenspan as one of "three Bill Buckners."[7]
  • A commercial for KGB revolves around a man's inability to remember Bill Buckner's name.

See also

Quotes

"Bill Buckner was more than just a great player. He was a champion warrior."

References

External links


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