Thursday, October 19, 2006

An anniversary they will not be celebrating in Boston

Coming up is the 20 year anniversary of the Bill Buckner error that cost the Boston Red Sox the World Series in 1986. It is easily one of the Top 5 worst moments in the history of that franchise.

Top 5 Worst Moments for the Red Sox
1. The sale of Babe Ruth by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee in 1920 so he could finance the play No, No, Nanette.

2. Bill Buckner muffs Mookie Wilson's ground ball in 1986 allowing the Mets to tie and eventually win Game 6 of the World Series.

3. New York Yankee Bucky Dent hits a three run home run off Mike Torrez in the 1978 AL East Division Championship to win the game for the Yanks and the division. What makes this worse is that Dent only ever hit 40 home runs in his 12 year career.

4. Aaron Boone hits a three run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning of game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship series that allows the Yankees to win that series.

5. In the mid-to-late 1940s, the Red Sox decided against signing any players who were black. Both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays even tried out for the team, however as detailed in Howard Bryant's book Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball In Boston, these were token tryouts and Red Sox management had no intention of signing them.

As important as #5 is there, really to me, the Red Sox curse was not The Curse of the Bambino, it was The Curse of The Brother as the Red Sox were the last Major League team to sign a black player.

But for the point of this blog entry, it's #2 that interests me. As I said, it is the 20 year anniversary of this event. Buckner continues to be one of the most hated men in the city of Boston. In this interview with Buckner from ESPN, he details exactly how this error has effected his life to this date.

Here is the video of this error. Yes, it goes through his legs, but the fact is, with Wilson running, Buckner playing deep behind first base with those fragile and aging knees and the fact that Red Sox pitcher Bob Stanley does not run over to cover first. Even if Buckner catches the grounder, Wilson still is safe at first.

What has helped give this story legs, other than it being further proof for Boston fans of the Curse of the Bambino, is the type of batting glove Buckner is wearing. As this picture shows, aside from his Red Sox uniform, he is wearing a Chicago Cubs batting glove. The Chicago Cubs, the only team in Major League Baseball even more cursed than the Red Sox! Some people doubt the authenticity of this picture but Buckner was a former Cub from 1977 till 1984 and even won a batting championship for them in 1981.

One has to feel sorry for Buckner. He was one of the greatest contact hitters of his generation. He had a lifetime batting average of .289 and he had over 2700 hits while striking out only 453 times. But for the rest of his life, he will only be known by this one single play.



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