Bill Buckner, owner of 2,715 Major League hits and one of the most infamous players in Boston sports history, is dead at age 69.
Buckner was a brilliant infielder and a doubles machine that won the National League batting title in 1980, but until the 2004 Red Sox won the World Series he was the unfortunate poster child for Boston sports misfortunes.
According to reports, Buckner died over the weekend from complications with dementia.
Buckner was a star with the Chicago Cubs and was traded to Boston in 1984, where he was the cornerstone of the Red Sox run to the World Series. His error at first base during Game 6 of the World Series against the New York Mets is one of the most heartbreaking baseball moments in history.
Boston, looking for its first World Series title since 1918, carried a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 against the Mets. New York tied it with two runs, then brought Mookie Wilson to the plate.
Wilson worked a 3-2 count off reliever Bob Stanley, and then, with a runner on second base, 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 snag 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 can-you-believe-it win. They took Game 7, too, a gut punch to a Red Sox team a strike away from a long-awaited title just 48 hours earlier.
As word of his death spread online, many remembered his appearance on the HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm where he caught a baby that was thrown from a burning building.
It was a fun “redemption” storyline, but his teammates and many in Boston felt his treatment by some in the years after his error was completely unfair. He declined invites by the Red Sox to come to Fenway Park until after the Red Sox won the World Series again, and on opening day in 2008 was given an enormous ovation before throwing out the first pitch.