I still remember the game. I had been rooting for Boston, even though I wasn’t a Sox fan, per se. But I was 11 years old, and 11 year olds don’t root for cokehead criminals who beat each other during practice. They root for teams who have players named Spike Owen and Oil Can Boyd. I remember cheering as the Sox inched closer to victory. They had a 5-3 lead with two outs and no-one on base in the bottom of the 10th. The Shea Stadium scoreboard read “Congratulations Boston Red Sox”. Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez had gone to the clubhouse and cracked a beer. And then, suddenly, the Sox lost the ability to get an out. Three straight singles off Calvin Shiraldi. Bob Stanley replaced him, and threw a wild pitch that brought in the tying run. And then, Mookie Wilson hit a routine grounder to first base.
I cried for the next hour. It was that same sick feeling you get when a kicker misses a field goal at the end of a game or you read about the Titanic, and your mind tries to speak to the captain of a boat in 1912, telling him not to go so fast. I remember my dad saying, “They can still win in Game 7”, but we both knew that wasn’t true. They didn’t win, and Bill Buckner, who played in four different decades, who won a batting title, and who finished with more hits than all but about 50 players who ever played the game, will be forever remembered as the guy who let that ball go through his legs.
Here’s an article talking about what Buckner is up to these days. If you’ve got any vivid recollections of that game, feel free to share below.