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Bill Buckner  

William Joseph Buckner was born December 14, 1949 in Vallejo, California and is a former Major League Baseball first

William Joseph Buckner (born December 14, 1949 in Vallejo, California) is a former Major League Baseball first baseman. Despite winning a batting crown in 1980, representing the Chicago Cubs at the All-Star Game the next season and accumulating over 2,700 hits in his twenty year career, he is best remembered for a crucial fielding error during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, a play that has since been prominently entrenched into American sports lore.

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 1969 at the age of 19. He appeared in just one game, September 21 against the San Francisco Giants, and popped out to second baseman Ron Hunt pinch hitting for Jim Brewer in the ninth inning.

Buckner began the 1970 season with the Dodgers, but after batting just .121 with no home runs and no RBIs, he was returned to triple A Spokane. His .335 batting average with the Spokane Indians earned him a second chance, and he returned to the Dodgers when rosters expanded that September. He batted .257 in the months of September and October, with four RBIs and five runs scored.

Buckner earned a starting job with the Dodgers in 1971 as their opening day right fielder. Buckner also played some first base with the Dodgers, making 87 starts at first in 1973, but when Steve Garvey emerged as a Gold Glove first baseman and the National League's Most Valuable Player the following season, that came to an abrupt end. Buckner played a supporting role in a baseball milestone on April 8, 1974. Playing left field, Buckner climbed the fence in an attempt to catch Hank Aaron's 715th home run. He was shifted to left field permanently when the Dodgers acquired Reggie Smith from the St. Louis Cardinals on June 15, 1976. In his Dodger career, Buckner batted .289 with 38 home runs and 277 runs batted in in 773 games.

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 Six. 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, and the ball rolled under his glove, through his legs and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run.

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 six) 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.


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