A Baseball Legend Has Died at 69

Legendary Boston Red Sox player Bill Buckner has died at the age of 69, ESPN has reported.

Buckner spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, but it was his stint with the Red Sox, and one moment of infamy, that is remembered best.

In 1986, as a first baseman for Boston, Buckner made a crucial error during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets. Boston went on to lose the game, and eventually the series. At the time, it had been 68 years since the Red Sox had won a championship. It would take 18 more years before the team would eventually win the World Series.

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Buckner was suffering from dementia, according to a statement released by his family. “After battling the disease of Lewy Body Dementia, Bill Buckner passed away early the morning of May 27th surrounded by his family,” the statement read. “Bill fought with courage and grit as he did all things in life. Our hearts are broken but we are at peace knowing he is in the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

His 21-year career began in 1969 with the Dodgers. He finished with a career average of .289, 2,715 hits, 1,208 RBIs, 1,077 runs scored and 174 home runs. During the 1970s and 1980s, only Pete Rose had more hits than he did. He played for a total of six teams during that span, including two stints with the Red Sox.

Despite being an All-Star and winning the batting title in 1980, Buckner is unfairly remembered for his fielding error during the 1986 World Series, which gave the New York Mets the chance to come back and eventually win the series.

Despite always playing hard and being a leader on the team, Red Sox fans blamed him for the loss for decades.

Teammates, however, pointed out that Boston would never have made it to the World Series without him. “No one played harder than Bill. No one prepared themselves as well as Bill Buckner did, and no one wanted to win as much as Bill Buckner,” Red Sox right fielder Dwight Evans said.

After winning two World Series, the Red Sox welcomed Buckner back, to throw out a first pitch, in an emotional moment that provided closure for all involved.

“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,” Buckner said when he returned to Fenway. “For what they put me and my family through. So, you know, I’ve done that and I’m over that.”

He is survived by his wife, Jody, and three children, Brittany, Christen and Bobby.

His friend and former teammate with the Dodgers Bobby Valentine tweeted out his condolences.  “As I clear my head and hold back the tears I know I will always remember Billy Buck as a great hitter and a better friend,” he said. “He deserved better. Thank God for his family. I’ll miss u Buck!”

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Source: ESPN

 

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