Born: December 14, 1949|
Vallejo, California, U.S.
|September 21, 1969 for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
Last MLB appearance
|May 30, 1990 for the Boston Red Sox|
|Runs batted in||1,208|
Career highlights and awards
William Joseph "Bill" Buckner (born December 14, 1949) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) first baseman. He appeared in MLB from 1969 through 1990. During his career, he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, California Angels, and Kansas City Royals.
Buckner accumulated over 2,700 hits in his twenty-year career, won a batting title in
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Despite his successes, Buckner is best remembered for a fielding error during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets, a play that has since become prominently entrenched in New England sports lore.
Bill Buckner was born in Vallejo, California and grew up in American Canyon, California. Buckner graduated from Napa High School in 1968 after playing on the school's baseball and football teams. While playing football, he was a two-time All-State wide receiver Coaches and also achieved All-America honors twice. Buckner was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 1968 Major League Baseball Draft. His friend, Bobby Valentine, was the Dodgers' first round pick. Upon signing with the Dodgers, Buckner was assigned to the Ogden Dodgers of the Pioneer League. He also briefly attended the University of Southern California and Arizona State University and became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity while a farmhand with the Dodgers.
Los Angeles Dodgers
After two minor league seasons, in which he batted .323, Buckner made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a September call-up in
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Buckner began the
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Buckner earned a starting job with the Dodgers in
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Whereas early indications seemed to lean toward the Dodgers getting the better end of this deal, with Monday becoming one of the key centerpieces of the Dodgers clubs that went to the 1977 and 1978 World Series, Buckner soon emerged as something of a star for the beleaguered Cubs. During his career in Chicago, he batted over .300 four times, leading the league in 1980 at .324, and was the Cubs' sole representative at the 1981 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
On May 17, 1979, in a famous slugfest at Wrigley Field that included three homers by Dave Kingman and two by Mike Schmidt, Buckner went four-for-seven with a grand slam and seven RBIs. When manager Herman Franks resigned late in the 1979 season, he made negative comments about several players, including calling Buckner "nuts."
Boston Red Sox
Early in the
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Buckner appeared in all 162 games for the Red Sox in
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In September 1986, Buckner hit .340 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs, while missing just three games in spite of chronic ankle soreness. Dave Stapleton, the Bosox first baseman prior to the acquisition of Buckner, began seeing more playing time as a late inning defensive replacement for Buckner in September and October. Buckner, meanwhile, became the first major league player to wear Nike high-top baseball cleats professionally in an effort to relieve pressure from his ankles.
Buckner drove in over 100 runs for the second season in a row, and was a key member of the team that won the American League East by 5.5 games. He entered Game five of the 1986 American League Championship Series batting just .111 in the ALCS, and was 0-for-three in the game when he singled to start the ninth inning rally, which was capped off by Dave Henderson's famous home run. He went three-for-six in the final two games, as the Red Sox came back from the brink of elimination to defeat the California Angels, and win the American League pennant.
1986 World Series
Boston was leading the heavily favored New York Mets three games to two in the 1986 World Series when Game Six of the series went into extra innings. For his part, Buckner was batting just .143 against Mets pitching, and was 0-for-5 in Game 6. When the Sox scored two runs in the top of the tenth, Boston manager John McNamara chose to have Buckner take the field in the bottom of the inning instead of bringing Stapleton in as a defensive replacement for the ailing Buckner as he had in games one, two and five.
New York came back to tie the game with three straight two-out singles off Calvin Schiraldi and a wild pitch by Bob Stanley. Mookie Wilson fouled off several pitches before hitting a slow roller to Buckner at first base. Aware of Wilson's speed, Buckner tried to rush the play. As a result, the ball rolled to the left side of his glove, through his legs and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run from second base.
Boston led Game 7 of the World Series 3–0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning when New York scored three runs off Bruce Hurst (who had been named World Series Most Valuable Player before the Mets' improbable comeback in Game 6) to tie the game, and score three more off Schiraldi in the seventh to take a 6–3 lead. Buckner was two-for-four in the game, and scored one of two runs the Sox plated in the eighth. However, the comeback fell short, and the Mets won their second World Championship in franchise history.
Regardless of Schiraldi's pitching, Stanley's wild pitch or any of the other perceived shortcomings that led to Boston's loss in the 1986 World Series, Buckner's error epitomized the "Curse of the Bambino" in the minds of Red Sox fans, and he soon became the scapegoat for a frustrated fan base. Buckner began receiving death threats, and was heckled and booed by his own home fans. Meanwhile, he was the focal point of derision from the fans of opposing teams on the road — especially when he faced the Mets in Spring training
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Upon his release from the Red Sox, Buckner signed with the California Angels. For the remainder of the 1987 season, Buckner batted .306 and drove in 32 runs in just 57 games.
At 38 years old, Buckner was released by the Angels on May 9,
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Buckner returned to the Red Sox in
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On April 8,
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year & 1976), and twice led the league in doubles (1981 & 1983). After moving to first base, he played 1,555 regular season games and made only 128 errors in 13,901 chances.
Post playing career
After Buckner retired from professional baseball he moved his family to Idaho, where he invested in real estate in the Boise area. One of the housing subdivisions which he developed is named Fenway Park. He lent his name to and was a minority owner of a local car dealership, Bill Buckner Motors in Emmett, which was in business from
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The Rox posted a 51–42 record in 2011, but went on hiatus following the season. In December, Buckner became the hitting instructor for the Boise Hawks for 2012. The Hawks are the Cubs' affiliate in the Short season class A Northwest League. Buckner announced his retirement from baseball on March 3, 2014.  Buckner was inducted into the Napa High School Hall of fame in 1997  and the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2010.
With his wife, Jody, Buckner has two daughters, Brittany & Christen, and a son, Bobby. Bobby is a member of the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders baseball team. Buckner also has two brothers, Jim & Robert, who played minor league ball but did not make it to the majors. He also has a sister, Jan, who is Jim's twin.
References in popular culture
Charlie Sheen purchased the "Buckner Ball" at auction in
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Buckner and Mookie Wilson have become business partners to some extent, attending autograph shows together and signing copies of a photo of the 1986 play that linked the two players.
Buckner made a cameo at the beginning of the sports parody film The Comebacks and appeared in an episode of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as a cameo in the pilot episode of the short-lived sitcom Inside Schwartz, advising the title character to "just let it go". His famous miscue is also referenced in the films Celtic Pride, Rounders and Fever Pitch, the episode Brother's Little Helper of The Simpsons, and the musical Johnny Baseball. On October 23, 2008, during former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan's testimony in House hearings on the Economic crisis of 2008, Representative John Yarmuth referred to Greenspan as one of "three Bill Buckners."
In season 5, episode 3 of the CW show "Supernatural", Dean introduces himself as detective Bill Buckner
- List of Major League Baseball players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1,000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1,000 runs batted in
- List of Major League Baseball batting champions
- List of Major League Baseball doubles champions
- List of Major League Baseball players with 300 career stolen bases
- List of Major League Baseball players who played in four decades
- Ron Smith, Foreword by Joe Morgan. "The Sporting News Selects Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments, #8 E-3". The Sporting News.
- James, Marty (May 20, 2010). "AmCan's Buckner to enter Sac-Joaquin Section shrine". Napa Valley Register/American Canyon Eagle (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- James, Marty (June 13, 2011). "A high-flying Hall of Famer". Napa Valley Register (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- James, Marty (February 3, 2009). "Still talkin’ baseball". Napa Valley Register (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- "San Francisco Giants 4, Los Angeles Dodgers 3". Baseball-Reference.com. 1969-09-21.
- "1981 Major League Baseball All-Star Game". Baseball-Reference.com. 1981-08-09.
- "Philadelphia Phillies 23, Chicago Cubs 22". Baseball-Reference.com. 1979-05-17.
- Sullivan, Paul (1999-05-16). "History Shows Tirades Nothing New Around Wrigley Field". Chicago Tribune.
- Bill Simmons (2002-10-14). "Buckner Deserves Some Peace". ESPN.
- Gibney, Alex (director, narrator). Simmons, Bill (producer/creator). Buckner, Bill (himself, commentator). "Catching Hell", 30 for 30 series of documentaries. ESPN, 2011.
- "1986 World Series, Game six". Baseball-Reference.com. 1986-10-25.
- "1986 World Series, Game seven". Baseball-Reference.com. 1986-10-27.
- Stan Grossfeld (2003-10-23). "Error doesn't weigh: He's been a Sox scapegoat for 17 years, but Bill Buckner is at peace in Idaho". Boston Globe.
- "Boston Red Sox 6, New York Yankees 2". Baseball-Reference.com. 1987-07-28.
- "Boston Red Sox 3, Kansas City Royals 1". Baseball-Reference.com. 1988-07-15.
- Ben Houser (2006-10-06). "Buckner: 'I try to look at it in a positive way'". ESPN.
- Amalie Benjamin (2008-04-08). "An Emotional Day for Bill Buckner". Boston Globe.
- Brockton Rox.com
- James, Marty (January 6, 2011). "NHS great Buckner back in baseball". Napa Valley Register (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Chicageo Tribune - Cubs officially name Buckner as Boise hitting coach - 2011-12-30
- The Idaho Statesman - Buckner will serve as Boise Hawks’ hitting coach - 2011-12-31
- The Idaho Statesman - Boise Hawks hitting coach Bill Buckner retires from baseball - 2014-3-3
- James, Marty (April 9, 2008). "Buckner in Napa High Hall of Fame". Napa Valley Register (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- James, Marty (October 31, 2010). "Napa baseball coach accepts honor for his childhood hero". Napa Valley Register (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- James, Marty (April 22, 2010). "Napa High alum Buckner to enter Sac-Joaquin Section shrine". Napa Valley Register (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Mike Finger (2006-11-09). "UT sign Bill Buckner's son".
- James, Marty (September 27, 2011). "Brusstar earns Storm’s highest honor". Napa Valley Register (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Steve Zipay (2006-08-16). "The Buckner Ball: After getting by Buckner, it eventually was snared by fan who grew up on LI". Newsday. Archived from the original on 2007-03-13.
- "Buckner ball sells for $418,250".[dead link]
- "Bill Buckner ball sells for $418,250".
- ">"Auction record for Buckner Ball".
- Sepinwall, Alan (September 4, 2011). "Mister Softee: Bill Bucker to the rescue?". hitfix.com. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- "Rounders (screenplay)". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
- Shea, Brendan. "Tonight’s Lineup: A Crash Course on Red Sox History". American Repertory Theater.
- Greenspan Admits Errors to Hostile House Panel, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 24, 2008 (accessed Oct. 24, 2008)
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or Baseball Almanac, or The Baseball Page.com
- Bill Buckner official website
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