The next edition of Fox Sports Net’s documentary series BEYOND THE GLORY delves deep into the life of former major league All-Star Bill Buckner, whose stellar 22-year career will forever be remembered for one play he didn’t make.
In the Ron Shelton-produced profile, the extraordinary life of one of the toughest men to ever play the game is closely examined. Buckner, a man devoted to always getting it right, is unfortunately best remembered for getting one thing wrong. The infamous play in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, when a weak ground ball hit by Met Mookie Wilson amazingly slipped through Buckner’s legs led to a New York win, still affects the .289 lifetime hitter and many people in his life. Buckner, his family, former teammates and several others talk about “the play”, the circumstances surrounding it and the aftermath.
Shelton, the noted Hollywood film director and former minor league baseball player serves as executive consultant to BEYOND THE GLORY, and personally produced the Buckner episode. His resume includes sports feature films “Bull Durham,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” “Tin Cup,” “Cobb” and “Play It To The Bone.”
People interviewed for this compelling episode of BEYOND THE GLORY include: former players Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Tom Paciorek, managers Bobby Valentine, Tommy Lasorda, John McNamara, sportscasters Bob Costas, Al Michaels, sportswriters Dan Shaughnessy, Bert Sugar, Boston Red Sox trainer Rick Zawacki and several Buckner family members including his wife Jody, daughter Christen, son Bobby, brothers Bob and Jimmy, sister Jan Crew and his mother Marie.
Following are excerpts from the one-hour show:
(Various reactions to the play itself)
Jody (wife): “I do blame the media for what they did to Bill. It was grossly unjust, unfair and not warranted. Bill did not lose the World Series. I truly feel they needed to make an issue out of this. I don’t know why they chose Bill, but I do take extraordinary issue with it.”
Shaughnessy: “The media definitely plays a big hand in what’s happened to Bill and his reputation. This is the most replayed error that I’ve ever seen in sports. TV makes it worse and writers haven’t helped matters either by perpetuating it – me writing “The Curse of the Bambino.” Bill Buckner’s picture is on the front of my book. I certainly have a lion’s share of blame for what’s happened to Bill and his reputation.”
Costas: “It’s one of the most vivid images in baseball history.”
Michaels: “There’s an attachment to it that is so devastatingly inappropriate. A guy that almost gets to the Hall of Fame in my mind. To have this sole attachment to his name is just so wrong and I’ve never seen anything so unfair.”
Jody: “Never ever in my wildest imagination could I have imagined the ramifications of that one play.”
“To this day, almost 15 years later, not a day goes by when I don’t hear of it, or read about it, or somebody doesn’t say something about it to me.”
Buckner: “It wasn’t because I didn’t stay down. I think I was so concerned about making sure that I caught the ball or it didn’t get by, that I probably should have just caught the ball with one hand and then flipped it to first base. It would have been a close play because of the fact I was playing so deep and out of position that, we might not have gotten him at first base. Because Mookie runs well.”
Buckner: (Ray Knight at second base had taken a big lead and the Red Sox prepared to pick him off) “I can’t leave the whole right side of the infield open. So, I got to cheat over. So, when you know now Marty’s (Barrett)cheated up the middle. I’m cheated over, and I’m way deeper than I normally would be.”
McNamara: “Bill Buckner is on the field because he was the best first baseman I had. People say well, I wanted him out there so he could celebrate when we won. That’s far from the truth. I don’t care who it was, whether it was my mother, my wife, or anybody. If I didn’t think they could do the job, they wouldn’t be out there.”
Michaels: “Buckner looked as if he needed crutches or at best a cane and not too many guys could play in these circumstances. He shouldn’t have been playing.”
Shaughnessy: “People would walk around with Halloween costumes, with a baseball on a string tied to their back and a glove in their hand, and you’d say, ‘Who are you?’ You look down between your legs, ‘I’m Bill Buckner.’ That’s the joke.”
Jan: “We had no clue that one error was going to have an impact on him and his (sister) family for a long time.”
Jody: “This person from the Associated Press on the other end of the phone was asking my husband if he had ever contemplated suicide because of the error.”
Shaughnessy: “It’s kind of the O.J. car chase of sports.”
(on Buckner’s competitiveness)
Buckner: “My first at bat in professional baseball I struck out and I thought it was the end of the world. It was almost too much to deal with – the pressure and the frustration. It was just one at bat, but it seemed like a season and I had all these thoughts flashing in my mind that, maybe, I just didn’t have what it takes to be a successful major league hitter.”
(Buckner’s competitiveness continued)
Buckner: “I mean I’d sit there and lay in bed and think all night about a pitch I should have hit or a pitch I shouldn’t have swung at.”
Jody: “He could never leave it at the park. If he didn’t get a hit, I didn’t get spoken to. That’s the truth.”
Zawacki: “I can say right now that as long as I have been with the Red Sox of twenty years, he holds the record for the most body parts being iced at one time which was nine.”
Valentine: “He was a tough guy, as tough as they come and as great a hitter I’ve ever seen.”
The BEYOND THE GLORY documentary series debuted on January 7 profiling such names as: Deion Sanders, Isiah Thomas, Warren Moon, Roberto Duran, Karl Malone, The Petty Family, Dale Earnhardt, James “Buster” Douglas, Bill “Spaceman” Lee and William “Refrigerator” Perry.
Future episodes scheduled include: A special re-air of Dale Earnhardt (April 22), figure skater Oksana Baiul (April 29) and Roy Jones, Jr. (May 20).