This year marks the 20th anniversary of Bill Buckner's infamous error in the 1986 World Series. We've always imagined him as a tragic figure, forever haunted by that moment, perhaps wandering the Pacific Northwest in a faded Red Sox jacket looking for a handout, like Sylvester Stallone in the opening scenes of the first Rambo movie. But that's far from the truth, says Boston Magazine's John Wolfson:
The problem with Bill Buckner is that when he's not trying to forget about that softly skipping grounder, he's scheming to squeeze every last nickel out of it. Every so often, an overnight package arrives on the doorstep of Buckner's house in Boise, Idaho. Stuffed inside are hundreds of copies of the same photo: The ball is already past Buckner, the first base umpire is thrusting out his arm to indicate a fair ball, and Mookie Wilson is in full sprint for the bag. These pictures await only the few alchemic strokes of Buckner's autograph marker that will transform them into gold. He and Wilson have an exclusive deal with a New York memorabilia company that sells the signed photos: $99 for an 8-by-10, $119 for a 16-by-20.
Buckner and Wilson, it seems, also have a deal with Steiner Sports Marketing, in which they appear together at signing events in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut for autograph signings. Actually, this kind of makes us glad. Why should Buckner suffer for one moment that, really, wasn't even his fault. Even Michael Dukakis knew that:
Of all the painful Red Sox moments, I'll never understand it. Buckner was a hell of a ballplayer. Gutsy. But he could barely run. And we had an excellent defensive first baseman named Dave Stapleton. Why McNamara didn't put him in for the 10th inning...
And if Dukakis could figure it out, couldn't everybody?
Leave It To Buckner [Boston Magazine]