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Bill Buckner – 1973 Topps #368

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William Joseph “Bill” Buckner  (born December 14, 1949) Despite winning a batting crown in 1980, representing the Chicago Cubs at the All-Star Game the following season and accumulating over 2,700 hits in his twenty-year career, he is best remembered for a fielding error during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, a play that has since been prominently entrenched into American sports lore. 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 past his glove, through his legs and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run. Buckner returned to the Red Sox in 1990 as a free agent, and received a standing ovation from the crowd during player introductions at the home opener on April 9. His return was short lived, as he retired on June 5 with a .186 batting average, one home run and three RBIs. However, that one home run was an inside-the-park roundtripper that Buckner hit on April 25, 1990, off California Angels pitcher Kirk McCaskill. It was the only inside-the-park home run of his career.
On April 8, 2008, Buckner threw out the first pitch to former teammate Dwight Evans at the Red Sox home opener as they unfurled their 2007 World Series championship banner. He received a four minute standing ovation from the sell-out crowd. After the game, when asked if he had any second thoughts about appearing at the game, he said, “I really had to forgive, not the fans of Boston, per se, but I would have to say in my heart I had to forgive the media for what they put me and my family through. So, you know, I’ve done that and I’m over that.”

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