Apologizing to Buckner

“We have the best, and, to be more specific, the classiest fans in all of sports, and the reason I say that is because they recognize and care about hard work as well as people, human beings. Contributions … other than superstars. They recognize every player on the roster.

“They recognize contributions from guys like Alex Cora, and, in the past, from a pitcher who would get one out. They always seem to recognize effort. I’m just blown away by their consistency and their knowledge of the game."

Damn straight, Gabe Kapler, who received a touching standing ovation before Monday’s game, joining the ranks of Coco Crisp and Kevin Millar, who also received standing O’s before their first-ever 2006 at-bats at Fenway Park.

Not to say Boston fans haven’t made mistakes (the 2005 treatment of Foulke, Bellhorn and Millar stand out — although, really, screw you, Edgar). Fans remedied their mistake with Millar when he returned with the O’s. Sox fans now might have a chance to remedy a 20-year mistake in just a few days.

The Sox will honor the 1986 American League champs on Tuesday, with the Mets in town. They’ve sent invites to all the relevant participants — including Bill Buckner. Buckner has received all kinds of abuse in the 20 years following his infamous error that ended Game 6 of the Series. After the 04 win, some media types went so far as to say Boston had forgiven Buckner. From the Globe’s blog:

"Personally, on my end of it, I’m just a little disappointed with the whole thing,” Buckner told Sporting News Radio in October 2004 after the Sox won the World Series. “This whole thing about being forgiven and clearing my name, you know, I mean … cleared from what? What did I do wrong?  … I’ve gone through a lot of, what I feel, undeserved bad situations for myself and my family over a long period of time, and for someone to come up to me and say, "Hey, you’re forgiven,’ I mean, it just kind of brings a really bad taste in my mouth."

Surprisingly, Boston fans actually gave Buckner a standing ovation when he returned to the team in 1990. Nevertheless, the stigma remains, and once and for all, Sox fans should give Buckner a standing O — assuming he accepts the invitation, which he hasn’t yet. This wouldn’t be forgiving him. It would be asking his forgiveness.

I admit that I wasn’t there in 86, being just 4 years old, and I didn’t go through the heartbreak and raw emotion that many Sox fans endured. Such feelings are difficult to let go of.

But it’s not like I’m asking Sox fans to cheer Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone. We accept now that Buckner was a victim of poor managing and poor circumstances in being put in the position he was in. Most people now blame the Game 6 collapse on some combination of McNamara/Gedman/Stanley. Buckner was an important piece of a championship team and should be remembered as such. It would be a great gesture if Sox fans would prove Kapler right yet again and give Buckner a well-deserved, long-overdue standing ovation.

23 comments… add one
  • Hear, hear. I was also 4 during the 86 WS, so my memory of October of that year is less than vivid. I do remember hearing that Buckner was pretty sick of the whole “we forgive you” thing during 2004. What everybody seems to forget is that in addition to ppor managing, without Bucker the Sox wouldn’t have been so close in the first place.

    Matt June 21, 2006, 2:45 am
  • if bill buckner shows up, i agree wholeheartedly. but why would he even show up? if i were him the only thing i’d want to give RSN is a double-middle-finger. it’s all hunky dory to us now but we harrassed the guy into moving to IDAHO. that’s his real life we’re talking about, his family, his kids got harrassed…if i were bill buckner i don’t know if i’d forgive us.

    beth June 21, 2006, 5:00 am
  • Let’s not forget Calvin Schiraldi.

    Dan June 21, 2006, 6:48 am
  • Beth: you took words out of my mouth.

    Cape Codder June 21, 2006, 10:00 am
  • I think Bucnker is a long shot to appear, following the WS in 2004 in an interview with someone, and I will try locating it today to give the exact quote he said in reposonse to the reporter saying that sox fans have finally forgiven him, he said something like there was nothing to be forgiven for. He at that time less then 2 years ago was still bitter towards Boston fans who put the blame on him (myself included).

    Anonymous June 21, 2006, 10:08 am
  • “This whole thing about being forgiven and clearing my name, you know, I mean … cleared from what? What did I do wrong? … I’ve gone through a lot of, what I feel, undeserved bad situations for myself and my family over a long period of time, and for someone to come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you’re forgiven.’ I mean, it just kind of brings a really bad taste in my mouth.” —
    Bill Buckner

    Anonymous June 21, 2006, 10:16 am
  • Buckner is right.

    SF June 21, 2006, 10:33 am
  • What if you guys cheer him and he lets the standing O slip under and between his legs and you don’t win the world series this year? Then you have to BOO HIS KIDS!
    Wait, that doesn’t make any sense.

    tom yf June 21, 2006, 10:49 am
  • Yeah, I kinda doubt he’ll appear also, especially since the bulk of his career came with the Cubs. It’s not like he spent even five years with his Boston teammates before making the error and leaving. He was basically here for two separate cups of coffee. He likely has little reason to return. But you never know. Like I said, this is all assuming he shows up, however likely (or not) that is. Presumably, they’ll at least read his name en absentia.

    Paul SF June 21, 2006, 11:01 am
  • Woops, and the Globe reports in the Red Sox Notebook this morning that Buckner “expressed some interest in attending but said he had a prior commitment sharpening butcher knives in his basement.” Oh wait, that’s not what it says. Apparently he has a prior engagement with his son in Washington state, which — coincidentally or not — is about as far away from Boston as you can get without running straight into the sea.

    Paul SF June 21, 2006, 11:06 am
  • Buckner and I share the same birthplace, so I’ve always been a fan of his. It’s sad he got put through all of that and I can’t imagine him making any attempt to re-open those old wounds. You know there will be some jackass who boo’s him if he shows. Why would you subject yourself to that>

    Nate June 21, 2006, 1:33 pm
  • Well, I have many vivid memories of that 1986 season… Including seeing them twice in Anaheim vs the Angels. Obviously some of those memories (the end of the 6th game) are horrible beyond belief, but most of that year the Sox were fantastic to watch. What most people don’t remember about Buckner is how productive he was offensively. In the two full seasons Buckner played for the Sox he had 369 hits, hit 34 home runs, drove in over a hundred runs a year, scored 162 runs, and hit 5 triples! Bill was definetly in the twilight of his career but he was far from a charity case. Bill Buckner played all out, he even stole 24 bases during those two years, and the fact people seem to have forgotten is that the injury that hobbled Buckner so much in the World Series came on a stolen base attempt late in the year after the Sox had already clinched the division!
    In the end it would be nice if more people realized the contributions he made to the Sox. As for myself, while I was devastated by the ’86 Series loss and no one who is Sox fan can ever forget that play, I blame the manager in that situation. I for one will remember Bill Buckner as a doubles machine, having hit 86 of them over those two years, nearly a quarter of his hit total!

    Brian Houk June 21, 2006, 3:16 pm
  • I’m starting to feel all warm and fuzzy, but…
    it’s a little late in the game for Sox fans to be extending an olive branch. And by late, I mean post-championship.
    It’s as hollow as it gets to effectively say ‘Now that I’ve got mine, I’ll give you yours.’ At this point it’s more about making yourselves feel better than about making him feel better.

    lp June 21, 2006, 4:21 pm
  • Red Sox draft pick Daniel Bard of North Carolina is about to start the game vs Cal State Fullerton on ESPN2 for anyone who might wanna tune in. And to make it even better Sean McDonough is calling the game.

    TJ June 21, 2006, 5:07 pm
  • Like I said, I blame Johnny Mc in that situation, not Bill Buckner. I may have cursed Buckner at the time for letting the ball roll under his glove, but I believe I yelled loudest “What the #@#!# is Buckner even doing out there!” Dave Stapleton should have been on the field in that situation. I’ve always believed that Buckner got a raw deal, and I’ll always appreciate the key role he played in the Sox offense BUT, the sad part is, all year long a healthy Bill Buckner helped bring the Sox to the World Series, but a hobbled Buckner was left in.

    Brian Houk June 21, 2006, 5:08 pm
  • “Most people now blame the Game 6 collapse on some combination of McNamara/Gedman/Stanley.”
    Let’s not forget Calvin Schiraldi’s little contribution to the 86 WS
    -4 innings pitched
    -7 hits
    -6 runs
    -3 walks
    -13.50 era
    …0 wins TWO losses
    The only pitcher in World Series history to be tagged with losses in both the 6th AND 7th game!

    Brian houk June 21, 2006, 5:38 pm
  • that entire 86′ season was weird. if you search for doonie moore on wikipedia you’ll find this quote;
    “Baseball is a team sport: games and series are not won or lost by single players. But in public perception, Moore became indelibly associated with the Angels’ loss of the pennant, in much the same manner that Bill Buckner became associated with the Red Sox’ subsequent loss of the World Series.”
    i have always felt worse for moore.

    sf rod June 21, 2006, 5:58 pm
  • it’s a little late in the game for Sox fans to be extending an olive branch. And by late, I mean post-championship
    LP: most Sox fans who paid attention during 1986 harbor little ill-will towards Buckner. I, for one, hate John MacNamara the most of any of them; he’s still my go-to standard (though Mike Hargrove comes close) for “worst manager of the 20th century that I got to see for more than 10 games”. The reason Buckner’s the iconic symbol of Red Sox failure is due to the fact that he was the guy out there whose legs the ball went through. He was adopted mostly by those outside Boston (and the sports media, for obvious imagery-related reasons) not just as a symbol of the Red Sox’ history, but also as a scapegoat for their loss, as the go-to-guy to cite when discussing how the Sox blew it. But we Sox fans, for the most part, know better. The ones who “forgave him” are few in number, I think, and they are most definitely jerks.

    SF June 21, 2006, 6:01 pm
  • I agree completely. I will never forget that error — it was one of the most shocking things I’ve ever seen in sports — but Buckner was pratically a cripple at that point. Many players would not have been on the field, but Bill Buckner was an old fashioned hardnosed baseball player, a tough sob and a hell of a hitter. McNamara’s decision to leave him in the game in the 9th inning makes Grady’s leaving Pedro in that famous game pale by comparison. Plus, the Sox has already blown the lead, thanks to Stanley and Schiraldi. I always blamed Stanley the most. He was the veteran, Schiraldi was a talented but shaky rookie who was in way over his head.

    Tom sf June 21, 2006, 7:39 pm
  • Sorry SF, that’s not the sentiment of Red Sox fans of my age group I came across when I lived in Boston. You’re rewriting history because now you have your ring.
    If RSN as a whole cared about him, this issue would have been put to rest in NE as well as the rest of the baseball world 5-10 years ago.
    There have been plenty of events where he could have been eased back into the Red Sox by the front office. That’s an initiative that the franchise never seriously pursued. But in reality, as recent as, say, 10 years ago, the notion in Boston that Buckner should wear anything but a goat’s collar was absurd.

    lp June 21, 2006, 7:55 pm
  • I believe SF has the truest take on it, most Sox fans who PAID ATTENTION during the 85 and 86 seasons have no real beef with Buckner.
    There will always be those who only see through the lens of the media’s eye, who look for the easiest target to assign blame, unconcerned with the bigger picture and the underlying resposibility for the disaster of the Sox ’86 World Series loss, it doesn’t make it right.
    I believe the vast majority of knowlegeable Sox fans don’t have a grudge against Buckner… Are they disappointed that Buckner let the ball roll past him, sure as &%##@!, but the guy was our type of ballplayer, a hardnosed old school tough guy who played hard every game.
    I only hope one day Buckner can forgive the Red Sox nation as a whole and realize that the Sox fans who really understood that team appreciate what he did for the Red Sox.

    Brian Houk June 22, 2006, 3:23 pm
  • I believe SF has the truest take on it, most Sox fans who PAID ATTENTION during the 85 and 86 seasons have no real beef with Buckner.
    There will always be those who only see through the lens of the media’s eye, who look for the easiest target to assign blame, unconcerned with the bigger picture and the underlying resposibility for the disaster of the Sox ’86 World Series loss, it doesn’t make it right.
    I believe the vast majority of knowlegeable Sox fans don’t have a grudge against Buckner… Are they disappointed that Buckner let the ball roll past him, sure as &%##@!, but the guy was our type of ballplayer, a hardnosed old school tough guy who played hard every game.
    I only hope one day Buckner can forgive the Red Sox nation as a whole and realize that the Sox fans who really understood that team appreciate what he did for the Red Sox.

    Brian Houk June 22, 2006, 3:26 pm
  • How old are you, LP, out of curiosity? My point was exactly what Brian reiterates: that those who were intimately following the Sox at that point have a pretty good grasp of what Buckner’s role in the “choke” was: not a big one. I am not sure why you attack me as “rewriting history” when I am only pointing out a complexity of the Buckner situation. Fans who were paying attention back then and still blame Buckner are stupid. Those who were 2 years old and didn’t watch and think Buckner was to blame are uninformed. That’s not that big a deal. Smearing all of RSN like you do while ignoring these nuances is really pretty unfair.

    SF June 22, 2006, 3:51 pm

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.