LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Dodgers remembered onetime Dodger and 1980 National League batting champion Bill Buckner today, as the baseball world reacted to news of Buckner's death at the age of 69.
“The Dodgers are saddened to hear about the passing of Bill Buckner, who died this morning after battling a long illness,” the Dodgers tweeted Monday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Buckner family.”
Buckner's wife, Jody Buckner, told ESPN that he had been battling Lewy body dementia in recent years.
“After battling the disease of Lewy Body Dementia, Bill Buckner passed away early the morning of May 27th surrounded by his family,” a family statement said.
Buckner was drafted by the Dodgers in 1968 and made his Major League debut one year later at the age of 19. He played for the Dodgers through the 1976 season, after which he was traded to the Chicago Cubs.
Buckner enjoyed his most productive seasons in Chicago from 1977-84, batting over .300 four times and leading the league in doubles in 1981 and 1983.
He was traded again to the Boston Red Sox in 1984, leading two years later to the moment that, unfortunately for Buckner, would come to define his career.
The Red Sox were one out away from winning their first World Series since 1918, leading the New York Mets, 5-3, in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series with no one on base. But Boston's bullpen allowed three straight singles and a crucial wild pitch, tying the game and setting the stage for Buckner's moment of infamy.
Mookie Wilson hit a slow ground ball to first base that went through Buckner's legs and the Mets scored the winning run. They won Game 7 two nights later and Buckner was permanently enshrined as one of Boston's great sporting goats.
In later years his treatment by fans came to be seen as too harsh, and he was welcomed back to throw out the first pitch at Boston's Fenway Park in 2008, after the Red Sox had won the 2004 World Series and ended their championship drought.
“Life is a lot of hard knocks,” Buckner said to USA Today in 2016. “There are a lot worse things happening than losing a baseball game or making an error, so it puts things in perspective. You learn forgiveness, patience -- all the things you have to do to survive.”
After Boston, Buckner played briefly with the Angels and the Kansas City Royals. He finished with 2,715 hits and a .289 batting average over a 22- year career.
Buckner moved to Idaho after he retired and pursued multiple business interests, including real estate and a local car dealership. He also had short stints as a minor league manager and batting instructor before retiring from baseball in 2014.
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