Bill Buckner, the former major leaguer whose error in the 1986 World Series for years lived in Red Sox infamy, died Monday. He was 69. His family said in a statement: “After battling the disease of Lewy Body Dementia, 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.”
Buckner played 22 seasons in the majors, was an All-Star, and won a batting title in 1980. But it was his error during the World Series against the NY Mets on Oct. 25 in 1986 that made for one of baseball’s most infamous, and shocking, moments. After Mets player Mookie Wilson bounced a slow roller up the first-base line on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. Buckner ranged to his left, went down to grab the ball behind the bag and watched it roll through his legs and into right field. Ray Knight scored to give the Mets a 6-5 win, and the Mets went on to win Game 7 and the World Series championship. Bill Buckner’s error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series unfortunately ended up defining his career, and even followed him after it.
Buckner spent 22 seasons in the big leagues, playing first base or the outfield for five teams, including the Red Sox twice. In 1990 he officially retired, finishing his career with 2,715 hits, 1,208 RBIs, 1,077 runs scored and 174 home runs. He remained in baseball as a coach, including a stint as the White Sox hitting coach in 1996 and ’97, and returned to Massachusetts in 2011 as manager of the independent league Brockton Rox.
He is survived by his wife, Jody, and three children, Brittany, Christen and Bobby.