Charles Krupa/Associated Press
He was 69.
“After battling the disease of Lewy Body Dementia, Bill Buckner passed away early the morning of May 27th surrounded by his family,” Buckner’s wife, Jody, said in a statement to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap. “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 played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Red Sox, California Angels and Kansas City Royals during a 22-year MLB career. He recorded 2,715 hits, 174 home runs and 1,280 runs batted in, winning the 1980 batting title and earning an All-Star berth in 1981 with the Cubs.
However, Buckner’s most infamous moment came five years later with the Red Sox. With Boston already having already blown a two-run lead with two outs and no one on, Buckner allowed an easy ground ball to dribble through his legs and give the Mets a game-winning run.
The Mets would go on to win Game 7 and the World Series, continuing Boston’s World Series drought. At the time, the Red Sox had not won a World Series since 1918. Buckner’s error became one of the most infamous plays in baseball history, and he was the scourge of Boston sports for a lengthy period of time.
Buckner returned to Boston in 1990 for a brief stint with the team but later stayed largely away from Fenway. He returned again in 2008 and received a warm welcome from the fanbase, which had since seen two World Series championships.
“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,” Buckner told reporters then. “For what they put me and my family through. So, you know, I’ve done that and I’m over that.”
After his retirement from baseball, Buckner worked in real estate and did some coaching in independent baseball.