Baseball Great Bill Buckner Dies at 69, Says Family

May 27, 2019 Updated: May 27, 2019

Bill Buckner, a former MLB player first baseman who played 22 seasons, died at age 69, according to reports.

Buckner had suffered from dementia, said his family.

“After battling the disease of Lewy Body Dementia, Bill Buckner passed away early the morning of May 27th surrounded by his family,” his family said in a statement to ESPN on May 27. “Bill fought with courage and grit as he did all things in life. Our hearts are broken but we are at peace knowing he is in the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Buckner is perhaps most-infamously known for a missed play during the World Series.

“It was a little groundball in the 1986 World Series that forever changed his legacy. Trying for their first crown since 1918, the Boston Red Sox led the New York Mets 5-3 going into the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 6 at Shea Stadium. The Mets tied it with two outs, then Mookie Wilson hit a trickler up the first base that rolled through Buckner’s legs, an error that let Ray Knight rush home from second base with the winning run. The Red Sox lost 8-5 in Game 7, and their World Series drought continued until they won the championship in 2004,” The Associated Press recounted of the famed World Series game.

Buckner was immortalized for the infamous moment. A number of Red Sox fans blamed him for the loss for years.

“No one played harder than Bill. No one prepared themselves as well as Bill Buckner did, and no one wanted to win as much as Bill Buckner,” right fielder Dwight Evans later said of his teammate.

After years of scrutiny, Buckner returned to Fenway Park in Boston in 2008 to throw the ceremonial first pitch during the Red Sox’s World Series victory.

“I really had to forgive, not the fans of Boston, per se, but I would have to say in my heart I had to forgive the media for what they put me and my family through,” Buckner said at the time, Fox News reported. “So, you know, I’ve done that and I’m over that.”

Former Mets and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine tweeted: “I know I will always remember Billy Buck as a great hitter and a better friend. He deserved better,” referring to the World Series error.