Bill Buckner, Red Sox icon entrenched in baseball history, dead at 69

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    Bill Buckner, Red Sox icon entrenched in baseball history, dead at 69

    Bill Buckner, Red Sox icon entrenched in baseball history, dead at 69

    BOSTON ? Bill Buckner, a star hitter who became known for making one of the most infamous plays in major league history, died Monday. He was 69.

    He died after a long battle with Lewy body dementia, Buckner?s family said in a statement. The disease causes Alzheimer?s-like symptoms along with movement and other problems.

    ?Bill fought with courage and grit as he did all things in life,? his family said.

    Buckner won an NL batting title, was an All-Star and got 2,715 hits in a 22-year career. He was long considered a gritty player, a gamer who would be welcome on any team. A reliable fielder, too.

    But it was a little groundball in the 1986 World Series that forever changed his legacy.

    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 Mookie Wilson hit a trickler up the first base line that rolled through Buckner?s legs, an error 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, with his misplay shown over and over on highlight reels.

    Buckner was released by the Red Sox the following summer, went on to play for the Angels and Royals, and returned to Boston for his final season in 1990, playing 22 games.

    In 2008, Buckner accepted an invitation to throw out the first ball for the home opener at Fenway Park as the Red Sox celebrated winning another title.

    Buckner drew loud cheers as he walked from the Green Monster in left field to the mound, and made his ceremonial toss to former teammate Dwight Evans.

    Buckner said the moment was ?probably about as emotional as it could get.?

    ?I really had to forgive,? he said later that day, ?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 I?ve done that. I?m over that. And I?m just happy that I just try to think of the positive. The happy things.?

    ?You can look at that Series and point fingers in a whole bunch of different directions,? Buckner said. ?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.

    Cleveland manager Terry Francona was the Red Sox skipper that afternoon at Fenway. On Monday, with the Indians set to play in Boston, Francona reflected on that experience.

    ?I thought it was kind of a healing moment, it seemed, for a lot of people and for him, I hope,? Francona said. ?You have to be up here to understand how people take things that happen. I thought that was a really cool moment.?

    Buckner lived in Boise, Idaho, after he finished playing. He was the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs? minor league affiliate in Boise in 2012-13, owned three car dealerships and several commercial properties in Idaho.

    Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts called Buckner a ?great ballplayer and beloved member of the Cubs family.?

    Buckner also became friendly with Wilson, who hit that grounder. While Buckner was long criticized for the error, many in baseball contend that even if the ball had been handled cleanly, the speedy Wilson would have beaten it anyway.

    Buckner made his big league debut with the Dodgers at 19 in 1969, was a batting champ with the Cubs and played until he was 40. He had a career .289 average and over 100 RBIs in three seasons, twice with Boston. Buckner finished with 174 home runs and 1,208 RBIs.

    He is survived by his wife, Jody, two daughters and one son.
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    Buckner was a good guy, it was really sad that his whole career seems to have been only about that one play. I met him once years ago, my next door neighbor was Bruce Hurst who would have been the World Series MVP had Buckner made that play. Bruce introduced me to him at his home and I was lucky to have spent some time talking to him and listening to him about his career. At the time of the infamous play, he was playing injured he had as I recall bone spurs or something similar in his ankles and could hardly walk. He was such a fierce competitor that he wanted to play anyway, thinking he could help the Red Sox win, hindsight is always 20/20. RIP Billy!

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    I'll never forget watching that game. Not a Bosox or Met fan but you know when you're witnessing something that's not going to be forgotten. Sucks cause he was a good player, if I were a Sox fan I would have had more of an issue with the manager's decision to play him while hurt. RIP Bill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by T Woods View Post
    I'll never forget watching that game. Not a Bosox or Met fan but you know when you're witnessing something that's not going to be forgotten. Sucks cause he was a good player, if I were a Sox fan I would have had more of an issue with the manager's decision to play him while hurt. RIP Bill.
    Bro.. you're totally right.. He got fucked... he should never have been playing the field.. He had 2 bum knees.. He had to move his whole family away from Boston after that world serious.. His kids were getting beat downs as a result.. Death threats.. At one point.. some time after.. he stopped doing interviews and left baseball altogether. His own words were that
    baseball ruined his life..
    When the Sox won the world series in 08 .. I was glad to see them invite Buckner to take part .. I believe it allowed some old, deep wounds to finally heal for Buckner.. It was super emotional to see Fenway give him a standing O after all these years.. It was one of our better, brighter moments in Red Sox history.. Check it out..


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