Destined to be remembered as the goat of the 1986 World Series, Bill Buckner deserves a better fate. He collected more hits in his career than all but roughly 50 players in baseball history, he won a batting title, and he played in four decades. Overlooking the fact that his infamous miscue occurred when Game Six of the 1986 Fall Classic was tied, fans somehow ignored the several other mishaps that befell the Red Sox earlier in the inning. Buckner retired less than four years later, bitter that his legacy was forever tarnished.
#22 (1970-1984 Cubs, 1990 Red Sox)
#16 (1984 Red Sox)
#6 (1985-1988 Angels)
#14 (1988-1989 Royals)
Buckner set career marks with 161 games played, 201 hits, and 105 RBI. Later he topped them with the Red Sox, but in '82 he batted .306 and had a respectable .441 slugging mark. He had 34 doubles and 15 home runs, and stole 15 bases in 20 tries.
From 1971 to 1980, Bill Buckner hit over .300 in every even-numbered year and hit below .300 in every odd-numbered year.
June 7, 1968: Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2nd round of the 1968 amateur draft;
January 11, 1977: Traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers with Jeff Albert (minors) and Ivan DeJesus to the Chicago Cubs for Rick Monday and Mike Garman;
May 25, 1984: Traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Boston Red Sox for Dennis Eckersley and Mike Brumley;
July 23, 1987: Released by the Boston Red Sox;
July 28, 1987: Signed as a Free Agent with the California Angels;
May 9, 1988: Released by the California Angels;
May 13, 1988: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals;
November 4, 1988: Granted Free Agency;
December 6, 1988: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals;
November 13, 1989: Granted Free Agency;
February 15, 1990: Signed as a Free Agent with the Boston Red Sox;
June 5, 1990: Released by the Boston Red Sox.
Batting for a high average and making contact. In 1980, when Buckner won the NL batting crown, he didn't strike out until his 112th at-bat of the season. Twice, in 1978 and 1979, he was the toughest batter in the National League to strike out. Ironically, depite his penchant for bat control, Buckner was one of the most notorious bat throwers of his era. Several times each season, the bat would fly out of his hands as he swung. Opposing pitchers grew used to ducking his errant bats.
Patience and power. Buckner's offensive value was contained almost exclusively in his batting average.
On May 17, 1979, in a famous slugfest at Wrigley Field that included three homers by Dave Kingman and two by Mike Schmidt, Buckner belted a grand slam and drove in seven runs. The Cubs still lost to the Phillies, 23-22 in ten innings.
Reaching for 3,000
Had Buckner had the fortune of being drafted by an expansion team, he may have inched very close to the 3,000-hit mark. As it was he banged out more than 2,700 in his career, but if he hadn't been stuck in the talent-rich Dodger organization, he might have gotten a chance to play everyday at the age of 20, which might have netted him the 285 hits he needed to reach 3,000.
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