This Date In Transactions History: Bill Buckner

Everyone makes mistakes.  However, not everyone draws the ire of an entire fan base and a city for their errors in life or on the baseball diamond.  For a long time, it seemed as though Bill Buckner would never be forgiven by the Red Sox faithful for his infamous play.  The Mets, seemingly on the verge of elimination in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, mounted a comeback in the 10th inning that should have been extinguished by Mookie Wilson's slow roller to first base.  Buckner, hampered by two bad ankles, let the ball squeak through his legs, allowing the Mets to score the winning run, tie the series at 3-3, and capture the title two days later at Shea.

Buckner remained with the club for the 1987 season until he was released in early July after hitting .273/.299/.322 with two homers in 75 games.  His final 57 games with the Angels were much stronger as he posted a slash line of .306/.337/.432 with three home runs.  Prior to the 1990 season, the Red Sox signed the 40-year-old Buckner and the veteran received a standing ovation when he was introduced at the home opener on April 9th.  Buckner's Beantown homecoming would be short-lived, however, and on this date in 1990, the veteran would retire upon being released by the Red Sox.

The first baseman made just 48 plate appearances in his second Boston go-round but would retire with a strong 22-year body of work to reflect upon.  Buckner came into his own as a member of the Dodgers before enjoying his prime with the Cubs, where he hit .300/.332/.439 across eight seasons.  While Buckner's most memorable moment on the field was his gaffe October of 1986, the first baseman was able to wrap up his impressive career on good terms with the Fenway Park crowd.

22 Responses to This Date In Transactions History: Bill Buckner Leave a Reply

  1. Always one of my favorite Cubs and players in general.  Just think if he played on 2 good legs.

  2. its easy to blame a guy for letting a routine ground ball go between his legs, but what about game 7? what is the excuse there? they still had a chance to win it all but failed to pull it off. reminds me of the 03 NLCS when that kid reached over the wall like any normal fan would do to catch a foul ball in the heat of the moment and was blamed for the cubs losing out on a chance to go to a world series, what about the rest of the game? the error on the SS, horrible pitching the rest of the game by prior? its to easy to blame just one person when in all actualality its the team who should pick up the mistake whether it was by a fan or a player. both teams failed to do just that which led to both teams failing to get a championship.

    • Since when is a 40 year old man a kid?

      • MB923 3 years ago

        That’s not what he said nor is it his point. His point was that the Red Sox and Cubs both had 2nd chances to win their series’ the next night and that Buckner and Bartman should not be full to blame for the Red Sox and Cubs losing the series.

    • lefty177 3 years ago

      Exactly, that’s why they’re paid millions of dollars to do

    • Robert5286 3 years ago

      This guy was a quality player and person. Two teams made huge mistakes in letting him go.  The Dodgers, with Garvey, Lopes, Cey and Baker might have won the 77-78 WS with Buckner on board.

       For the Cubs, it would have been a good trade had they kept Eck and converted him to closer. They did not, and the trading of Buckner cost them. 

      • Eck had a good year as a starter for the Cubs in ’84 and we probably wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him as the #3 starter that year, Rick Sutcliffe’s phenomenal 16-1 run notwithstanding.

        • Robert5286 3 years ago

          This is true. Eck needed a new town and he was better when he got to the Cubs that year.

  3. Never mind the fact that Bob Stanley threw a ball away so the tying run could score.

    • Robert5286 3 years ago

      Steamer, Gedman, or both, created the Buckner situation. Now, if Clemens pitched the 8th and 9th, Sox most likely win.

  4. start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

    Ok. I’m getting tired of this whole “Red Sox fans hate Buckner.” We don’t. The Red Sox would have never been in the Series if it wasn’t for him and frankly those of us who were either alive during the Series or have relatives who were tend to blame anyone but Buckner, especially Stanley, Schiraldi, or McNamara. 

    • MB923 3 years ago

      The Red Sox would have never been in the Series if it wasn’t for him”

      Umm, what? It was actually Dave Henderson’s clutch AB’s in Game 5 which helped Boston win the ALCS

      • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

        It Buckner’s September that was credited as being a major reason the team was able to stay in first.

        • MB923 3 years ago

          Well originally I thought you were referring to the ALCS as why Boston got to the Series. But still, the credit for Boston going to the series has to to with the MVP Clemens, not Buckner. Boston won the division that year by 5 games over the Yankees, and had a 3 game lead at the end of August.

          I’d give also more credit to Bruce Hurst (5-1, 1.72 ERA in Sept) and as mentioned, Roger Clemens (4-0, 1.99 ERA in Sept) for Boston’s very good September

        • MB923 3 years ago

          Also, Boggs and Rice were just as good, if not better than Buckner in September.

          • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

            Stars should do what their expected in crunch time, they should step up. Though when average players do it, it seems bigger. I barely understood baseball in 1986 but I have listened to other Red Sox fans who were, including my entire family and many friends.

            While you might say that means I’m only repeating what I’m told, strangely enough that should prove my point. In September 1986, Red Sox fans at the time credited Buckner as being the hero that made sure we kept first place in September. They also blame Stanley, Schiraldi, and McNamara for the loss in the Series. So going back to my original point, Red Sox fans don’t hate or blame Buckner. 

          • MB923 3 years ago

            I never said they hated Buckner. Matter of fact I knew that most of them did not.

          • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

            I never said you did. I was initially responding to the statement: “For a long time, it seemed as though Bill Buckner would never be forgiven by the Red Sox faithful for his infamous play.”

            It doesn’t just imply but pretty much directly states that Sox fans blamed Buckner. All I was doing was setting the record straight. Any Red Sox fan who dislikes Buckner is a bandwagon fan who listened to some sportswriter who knows nothing about the Sox history and not actually fans who viewed Buckner as a hero. 

          • MB923 3 years ago

            I hear ya know and I agree.

          • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

            Then I’m glad this was a rational discussion. Thank you.

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

             Scrap iron was the heart and soul of the team, not Boggs and Rice.

            Rice was the team Captain in name only and was silent.. Buckner was the one who raised the motivational level of the players when they slacked, plus Don Baylor to some extent and even Evans some.

            Boggs and rice pretty much just played the game and went home, or left the stadium.

            A little info regarding Scrap Iron.. When his ankles got so horribly painful to walk.. he began wearing high top cleats for a few weeks just to remain on the field as the 1b.. DH was out with the statuesque and immobile Don Baylor entrenched there. Bucks had to play in the field and those “high toppers” was the only way he could walk he said back then, actually saying.. ” They are so ugly, they are cute” but they allowed hm to play and well he did that season.

            Have said for years that team made a mistake getting baylor at all, they should have let scrap Iron play DH.

    • Slopeboy 3 years ago

      Thank you! I’m one of ‘those’ who was alive during that season and place some blame on  the sententality of Johnny Mac. Though it’s easy to see why.
      Buckner was an important piece to the Sox’s ’86 season, he was a dynamite hitter and a leader on that team. Problem was  because of his bad ankles he had to be replaced in the latter innings when Boston had a lead for defensive purposes. McNamara did that just about all season and it helped.
      I remember watching game 6 and bringing it up to my Dad, that Buckner was still in, late in the game. He ventured the guess that McNamara wanted to have Buckner on the field to celebrate the victory, and it makes a lot of sense.
      Buckner was a great player, with numbers that fall a tiny bit under HOF consideration and he should never be remembered for that one error. People that don’t know the history, should take a second look at the guy’s record.

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