Former Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner died early Monday at the age of 69, per a report by ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap.
Schapp said he spoke with Buckner’s wife, Jody, who shared a statement.
Just got off the phone with Jody Buckner, who called to me that her husband, the great Bill Buckner, one of the finest men I've known, died this morning. She wanted to share this statement: "After battling the disease of Lewy Body Dementia, (cont.)— Jeremy Schaap (@JeremySchaap) May 27, 2019
Bill Buckner passed away early the morning of May 27th surrounded by his family. 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."— Jeremy Schaap (@JeremySchaap) May 27, 2019
Bill was 69.
Buckner is known for extending the Red Sox curse in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series when his error at first base handed the game to the New York Mets.
Buckner’s career was more than 1 error
He played 22 years in the majors for five different teams. He was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who drafted him in the second round of the 1968 amateur draft, and the Chicago Cubs for eight seasons each before joining the Red Sox.
Buckner won a batting title and All-Star nod back-to-back, and finished top-15 in MVP voting three consecutive years. But it’s his singular play at first base at Shea Stadium in October 1986 that stuck with fans for years. The Red Sox were looking for their first World Series title since 1918 with a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 10th inning when the Mets tied it.
Mookie Wilson came up with a runner on second and worked the count full before hitting a slow roller up the first base line. Buckner went to his left, but watched as it rolled through his legs and the runner scored.
The Mets went on to win Game 7 for the series. The Red Sox didn’t win a title until 2004, ending the “Curse of the Bambino” and opening the door for Buckner to fall back into fan’s good graces. He attended the home opener in 2008 after the Red Sox’ second World Series title to much fanfare and emotion.
Buckner retired in 1990 after attempting a second stint with the Red Sox. He and his family were forced to move from Massachusetts to Idaho due to the taunts and criticism. His career consisted of 2,715 hits, 1,208 RBIs, 1,077 runs scored and 174 home runs.
Red Sox, MLB shares condolences, memories
Following Buckner’s passing, the Red Sox issued a statement commemorating his time with the team and offering its condolences to his family.
“We are proud that Bill Buckner wore a Red Sox jersey during the course of a terrific career that spanned more than two decades,” principal owner John Henry said. “His life was defined by perseverance, resilience and an insatiable will to win. Those are the traits for which he will be most remembered.”
Across his five years with the Red Sox, Buckner played in 526 games, notching 577 hits, 324 RBIs and a .279/.315/.410 slash line.
“Bill Buckner personified toughness and grit, and his determination to play through pain defines him far more than any single play ever could,” chairman Tom Werner added. “The standing ovations our fans gave him on his visits back to Fenway Park, most notably when he threw out the first pitch before our opener in 2008, illustrate the respect and admiration we all had for Billy Buck. We mourn his loss and offer condolences to his family and many friends.”
Bobby Valentine, Buckner’s teammate and a former Red Sox manager, first shared the news of Buckner’s death on Twitter.
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 deserved better. Thank god for his family. I ll miss u Buck!— Bobby Valentine (@BobbyValentine) May 27, 2019
He also shared multiple photos as other thoughts began pouring in.
We mourn the loss of legendary first baseman Bill Buckner. May he Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/7ux5fdC8fO— MLBPAA (@MLBPAA) May 27, 2019
Talk about a player from another era: Bill Buckner played 22 MLB seasons, and he never walked or struck out more than 40 times in any of them.— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) May 27, 2019
Terrible news. Bill Buckner always handled his place in history from October 1986 with such grace. He also had an incredible career around all that. https://t.co/qcVEOFQVSn— Wayne Randazzo (@WayneRandazzo) May 27, 2019
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