Thursday, May 29, 2003

Chuffed I was, so they say, to see that late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould debunked the myth, in his latest and final book, "that Bill Buckner single-handedly blew the Red Sox' chances of winning their first World Series since 1918 when he allowed a ball to roll through his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets."

Every Red Sox fan knows that the Mets had tied the game already, thanks to Calvin Schiraldi's wild pitch (or was it Rich Gedman's passed ball?) in the bottom of the 10th, after the Red Sox has been twice been one strike away for victory. And I believe a relief pitcher named Bob Stanley played a supporting role in the debacle. Plus, there was still Game 7 to blow. (As you might guess, the '86 Series was a formative -- and traumatic -- experience for me, age 12. I had just moved from the Boston suburbs to Long Island, the Mets' homeland. They really let me have it.)

Poor Bill. As far as I know, he was a decent ballplayer, but he'll forever be known as the guy who let an easy hit up the first base line slip through his legs. Sort of like the famous Fred Snodgrass, who after leaving baseball, went on to a distinguished career (scroll down) as a banker, rancher and even the mayor of Oxnard, California. When he died in 1974, his New York Times obituary carried the headline:

I am glad to see there's a "Don't Blame Buckner!" movement afoot.

Now on to the entertaining Slate article on Roger Clemens of the '86 Red Sox (now defected to the Yankees), one of baseball's last great eccentrics.


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