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For his entire career, Buckner was known as one of the more consistent contact hitters in the major leagues: in 2,517 games, Buckner accumulated 2,715 hits and only 453 strikeouts. He four times led the league in most at bats per strike out (1980, 1982, 1985, 1986), and four times placed second in the category (1979, 1981, 1983, 1987).
Despite an impressive 20-year career, Bill will forever be remembered for a ground ball that rolled between his legs for an error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
On October 25, 1986, with the Boston Red Sox leading the New York Mets 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, the game was tied in the bottom of the tenth inning. The Red Sox, had taken a two-run lead in the top of the tenth, but the Mets had come back to tie on a wild pitch by pitcher Bob Stanley. Mookie Wilson of the Mets fouled off several pitches before hitting a ground ball to Buckner at first base. The ball took a deadening bounce on the dirt and rolled under Buckner's glove, through his legs and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run from second base. It capped an astonishing comeback for the Mets, though it did not (as is often misremembered) end the World Series. The Met victory, in fact, forced a seventh game, which was played two nights later and won by the Mets.
Some observers of the game believe that even if Buckner had cleanly fielded the ball, he still would have been unable to prevent Wilson from reaching first base. Wilson was a very fast runner, while Buckner had lost a large part of his mobility because of a long history of ankle injuries; it is possible that Wilson would have beaten Buckner to first base, which would have extended the inning. (It did not help that Buckner went 0-for-5 with runners on in all five at-bats in that game, being the only player to do so until the Yankees' Hideki Matsui in the 2005 ALDS).
Although many factors can be cited as to why the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series, Buckner's error remains the popular focus of the blame. Moreover, the mistake was added to the lore of the Curse of the Bambino.
After Buckner retired from professional baseball he moved his family to Boise, Idaho, where he invested in real estate: one of the housing subdivisions which he developed is named Fenway Park.
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