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Pro Baseball Player Forgiven for Huge Blunder 22 Years Later

Bill Buckner, spent 22 years as a first baseman and outfielder in the major leagues. He passed away at the age of 69 in 2019. Buckner led the league in doubles twice and finished in the top 10 for stolen bases twice as well. Buckner was the National League batting champion in 1980 and was an All-Star in 1981. Yet there is perhaps no player in MLB history whose career was defined more by one mistake than Buckner.

It was the fall of 1986. The Red Sox had a 3-2 series lead over the New York Mets. But in the top half of the 10th inning of Game 6 the Mets’ Mookie Wilson hit a roller to Buckner at first base that trickled through his legs and into the outfield.

The Mets scored on the play to win Game 6, and then won Game 7, as well to win the World Series. Buckner’s error at a clutch moment catapulted him atop the list of sports’ worst-ever blunders. After his playing days, he even had to move away from the Boston area to Idaho due to the explosive rage of those around him.

Hard feelings between Buckner and Boston fans lasted for decades, but things began to change when the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004 and 2007. The power of forgiveness was on full display in 2008 when Buckner returned to Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch of the home opener. He received a standing ovation that lasted nearly two minutes and brought tears to his eyes.

Buckner leaned on his strong Christian faith to help him overcome the past he couldn’t avoid. Buckner said, “I’m a person of faith. It’s life, and everybody has to deal with something. You’re talking about cancers and those things that are much more important than baseball. Spiritually that helped me. I’ve had a lot of people call me and thank me for giving them directions to make it through.” His family said, “Our hearts are broken but we are at peace knowing he is in the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Source: Kevin Mercer, “Former MLB player Bill Buckner passes away, now 'in the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,'” Sports Spectrum (5-28-19)

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