Bill Buckner, forever known for World Series error, dies at 69
The Associated Press
Bill Buckner was an All-Star and batting champion, a gritty gamer who was welcome on any team.
A reliable fielder, too.
But a little grounder forever changed his legacy.
Buckner, who made one of the biggest blunders in baseball history when he let Mookie Wilson’s trickler roll through his legs in the 1986 World Series, died Monday. He was 69.
“He deserved better,” former Dodgers teammate Bobby Valentine tweeted.
Buckner died after a long battle with Lewy body dementia, his family said in a statement. The disease causes Alzheimer’s-like symptoms along with movement and other problems.
Buckner made his major league debut as a teenager, played until he was 40 and amassed 2,715 hits in between. Yet for all he accomplished, it was his October error at first base that fans always remembered.
Trying for their first crown since 1918, the Boston Red Sox led the New York Mets 5-3 going into the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 6 at Shea Stadium. The Mets tied it with two outs, then Wilson hit a roller up the first base line that got past a gimpy Buckner, a misplay that let Ray Knight rush home from second base with the winning run.
The Red Sox lost 8-5 in Game 7, and their World Series drought continued until they won the championship in 2004.
In the aftermath of Boston’s near-miss, Buckner became a target of fans in New England and beyond, his mistake shown over and over on highlight reels.
“You can look at that Series and point fingers in a whole bunch of different directions,” Buckner said a decade ago. “We did the best we could to win there and it just didn’t happen and I didn’t feel like I deserved” so much blame.