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I don’t need to tell you the story of Bill Buckner. You all know it: Buckner’s error in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series played a significant role in helping the Mets win that game and ultimately the whole damn thing. Buckner, a good major league player for most of his career, simply let the ball slip under his glove. He made a critical error in a big game, and was vilified ever since, perhaps unfairly.
After the Red Sox brought Buckner, now 61, back in 2008 to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in a tearful Opening Day ceremony, he said all was forgiven…even with the media. Still, Buckner and his family live far away in Idaho, and a semi-permanent return to Massachusetts seemed nearly impossible. Not so fast.
Despite being out of baseball since 1997 when he was the hitting coach with the White Sox, Buckner is returning to the game he loves as manager of the Brockton Rox. Buckner is signing a two-year deal and will spend summers somewhere in Massachusetts.
“I’m excited to spend the summer back in Massachusetts with the Rox,’’ Buckner said in a release from the team. “I’ve been looking forward to getting back into baseball, and it should be a good season.’’
Rox team president Chris Carminucci had been serving as the team’s manager the past two seasons, but now would like to spend more time with his family.
“I wanted a good baseball man to handle the team and develop the players,’’ team president Chris Carminucci said. “Bill has what it takes and he has so much experience. He’s one of the best around.”
It’s about time that Buckner is allowed to feel comfortable in Massachusetts. It’s probably a lot easier to say that he should be forgiven because the Red Sox have won two World Series titles recently, but I still think it’s unfair to pin the entire loss on Buckner. The Red Sox led the ’86 series 3-2, and his error in Game 6 was only after Bob Stanley allowed the tying run to score. The Sox also still had to lose Game 7 to lose the series! It’s like pinning the 2003 ALCS loss to the Yankees on Tim Wakefield, which is unfair because he was great that series and it was only a matter of time.
All is forgiven, Buck. Welcome back!