On May 27, the sporting world mourned the death of former Red Sox star Bill Buckner. He died of Lewy Body dementia at the relatively young age of 69. Buckner was a great hitter who won the National League batting title in 1980, and who helped the Red Sox win the American League pennant in 1986. However he is remembered mostly for an error he made in Game 6 of the World Series that year against the New York Mets, an error which allowed Mookie Wilson to score the game’s winning run. In the media frenzy that followed the contest (and which lasted for many years), Buckner was unfairly made the scapegoat for the Red Sox’ total-team implosion in the 10th inning, where Boston squandered what seemed to be an insurmountable 2-run lead. Finally, in 2008, Buckner was invited back to Fenway Park, to throw out the first pitch in the Red Sox home opener, as the team and fans celebrated the World Series win of 2007. He was given a two-minute standing ovation by the sell-out crowd—something that was long overdue.
What has become clear since Bill Buckner’s death is the important and central role that his Christian faith played in his life—especially in the aftermath of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. And he took comfort from fans who wrote to him to thank him for helping them deal with suffering and adversity in their own lives. As he said in a 2015 interview: “I’ve had a lot of people call me and thank me for giving them directions to make it through—and that’s a good thing.”
St. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that for those who love God all things work for good. Apparently, that even applies to errors in baseball games.
God bless you, Bill Buckner. May you rest in peace, forever!