I was just turning 10 years old, when the 1986 World Series was front and center. It was the first World Series that I truly ever watched, my parents let us watch each and every single one of those games -- plus much of the League Championship Series that preceded this classic World Series as well, which were as equally as exciting as the fall classic itself. The drama of that entire 1986 MLB postseason took me from a curious-about-baseball-novice to full-blown-baseball-lover for life...
and unfortunately for Bill Buckner, he played a pivotal role in that.
I remember feeling so bad for Bill, I remember that the very next school day, everyone talking about it (teachers and students), everyone replaying it by doing actual re-enactments on the playground.One of the kids played Buckner, while one of the others is an exuberant Gary Carter running across home plate.
I remember when my friends and I would open up packs of the 1987 Topps Baseball, the next spring, and when they pulled a Bill Buckner card, someone would say something on the lines of "Oh man, I got that loser" or "Oh, that poor bastard." Keep in mind, we were only kids, so we all know how much more worked up the adults and especially New Englanders were about that gaffe.
Of course, as history would play out, Buckner would be forever linked and haunted by the fielding mistake. Red Sox Nation and the media would quickly turn their back on Buckner, and Buckner himself would even move his family away from Massachusetts to Idaho, to avoid scrutiny.
His career was not the same from that point as well, as he batted only .258 over his next 1,041 plate appearances, with only a .621 OPS and .289 on-base percentage.
With his recent passing, many interesting stat lines over his career were noted, here are a few...
- Only one player had more hits than Bill Buckner in the 1970's and 1980's combined, and that was Pete Rose. Buckner had 2,707 hits during that span.
- Bill Buckner NEVER struck out more than 2 times in a single-game throughout his entire career. In fact, in 1980, when he won his only batting title (N.L. Batting Title for the Cubs), he only struck out 18 times that whole season (615 plate appearances).
- Per 162 games, Buckner struck out on average - 29 times a year.
- Buckner was one of five players to play in the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's & 1990's.
- Buckner only made the All-Star Game once, which just goes to show how often he was overshadowed.
- Buckner was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1968 MLB Draft. The Dodgers also selected Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Tom Paciorek, Doyle Alexander, Bobby Valentine, Geoff Zahn and Joe Ferguson in that draft.
Bill Buckner was loved by many of his teammates, and many say you won't find a nicer guy in the baseball world. He was a solid player, but he was an even better person.
I know that he will always be unfortunately known for that play, but I will say this, if it wasn't for Bill Buckner and his Game 6 blunder, I may not have fallen in love with the game in the same way, like I did that autumn.
So with that, I want to say thank you Bill, for helping me fall in love with baseball.
You will be missed.