April 20, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox former players Bill Rohr, left, Bill Buckner, Luis Tiant and Tommy Harper wait in the alley before they enter the field during the 100th anniversary celebration at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The worst thing that ever happened to Bill Buckner in his entire life was letting that ball roll through his legs during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
Mookie Wilson’s grounder ate up the gimpy Buckner at first base, allowing the winning run to score for the Mets. That tied the series at 3-3 and the Mets went on to claim the championship in seven.
You wouldn’t think the guy who played such a prominent role in making Buckner’s life miserable for decades would turn out to be Buckner’s best pal. But you would be wrong.
Apparently, Bill Buckner has a Jesus-like capacity for forgiveness. He is now besties with Wilson, the guy who made him one of the all-time goats of sports history.
“Bill and I have become very, very close,” Wilson told WIP radio in Philadelphia. “We’re really the best of friends. As good a friend as you can have. … I think I’ve learned more about Bill since both of us have gotten out of the game (than any) ball player I ever played with.”
“He’s a great great person,” Wilson went on. “We enjoy each other’s company and we have a lot in common, a lot more than you would think. And it’s just been great.”
Bizarrely enough, Wilson and Buckner now do autograph sessions together. Was a time when Buckner would have wanted nothing to do with that kind of arrangement. But he’s no longer hiding from his place in infamy. He’s out in the open.
Red Sox fans finally saw fit to find a little bit of Jesus in their hearts and forgive Buckner. So Buckner now feels comfortable with his legacy.
The worst moment in Bill Buckner’s life has now become a warm and fuzzy redemption story, if you can believe that.