Buckner lets ground ball roll through his legs - HISTORY
Year
1986

Buckner lets ground ball roll through his legs

In the wee hours of the morning on October 26, 1986, Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner lets an easy ground ball dribble between his legs and roll down the right-field line. It was just a routine fielding error, but it was a disaster for the Boston Red Sox: It was the 10th inning of the sixth game of the World Series; the game was tied; and, thanks to Buckner’s mistake, the runner on third had time to score, winning the game for the Mets and forcing a tiebreaking seventh—which, in the final innings, the Mets also won. Even though Game 6 was tied because Boston’s pitchers couldn’t hold a two-run, two-out lead, and even though the Sox managed to fritter away a three-run lead in Game 7, people still blame Buckner for losing the championship. “I can’t remember the last time I missed a ball like that,” he said, “but I’ll remember this one.”

Ever since team owner and Broadway producer Harry Frazee sold the great Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920, the Sox had been tragically unable to win the World Series. People said that the team was cursed. Before 1920, the Sox had won five championships; after the Babe left, Boston’s well ran dry. Over and over, the hapless Sox almost won—and over and over, they didn’t. In 1946, they were winning Game 7 with two outs in the eighth—until shortstop Johnny Pesky held onto a relay throw just long enough for Enos Slaughter to score the winning run (from first base). They lost in 1967 and 1975. Three years after that, in a one-game playoff for the AL championship, they lost when Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent, not exactly a reliable slugger, cranked one over the Green Monster with two men on base. The Bombers won the game and went on to win their 22nd World Series.

And then, just one out away from the championship in the sixth game of the 1986 series against the Mets, the Sox defense managed to bungle a series of easy plays so badly that they lost the game. At the bottom of the 10th, Boston had a 5-3 lead. Pitcher Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two Mets who came to the plate. But then Gary Carter hit a single; so did Kevin Mitchell; and then Ray Knight did, too. The score was 5-4. Bob Stanley came in from the Red Sox bullpen and immediately fired off a wild pitch. Mitchell scored, and the game was tied. Then outfielder Mookie Wilson stepped to the plate. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, after he’d knocked six pitches foul, Wilson poked a ground ball right to Buckner at first. Buckner bent to field the ball, but it bounced right over his glove and kept rolling down the right-field line. Knight headed gleefully for home. The Mets had won.

Two nights later, the Sox weren’t any luckier: They were winning 3-0 until the sixth, when the Mets tied the game. In the seventh, New York scored three more runs. With that, the Mets were the champs. The Curse of the Bambino, it seemed, would never die.

Buckner tried to stay in Boston, but fans heaped so much abuse on him and his family that he decided to move to Idaho. The Sox, meanwhile, won the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Erie Canal opens

The Erie Canal opens, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River. Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York, the driving force behind the project, led the opening ceremonies and rode the canal boat Seneca Chief from Buffalo to New York City.Work began on ...read more

Infant receives baboon heart

At Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California, Dr. Leonard L. Bailey performs the first baboon-to-human heart transplant, replacing a 14-day-old infant girl’s defective heart with the healthy, walnut-sized heart of a young baboon.The infant, known as “Baby ...read more

Battle of Leyte Gulf ends

After four days of furious fighting, the World War IIBattle of Leyte Gulf, the largest air-naval battle in history, ends with a decisive American victory over the Japanese.With the U.S. liberation of the Philippines underway, the desperate Japanese command decided to gamble their ...read more

“Outlaw” Sammy Swindell is born

On this day in 1955, Sammy Swindell, who becomes a star in the outlaw sport of sprint-car racing, is born in Germantown, Tennessee. In 1971, when he was just 15 years old, Swindell raced for the first time on a dirt track at the Riverside Speedway in Arkansas. Since he started ...read more

Shootout at the OK Corral

On this day in 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.After silver was discovered nearby in 1877, Tombstone quickly grew into one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest. Wyatt Earp, a ...read more

Fire breaks out on U.S. aircraft carrier

A fire breaks out on board the 42,000-ton U.S. aircraft carrier Oriskany in the Gulf of Tonkin. The accident occurred when a locker filled with night illumination magnesium flares burst into flame. The fire spread quickly through most of the ship, resulting in 35 officers and ...read more

Diem wins referendum in South Vietnam

Ngo Dinh Diem defeats Emperor Bao Dai in national referendum. In June 1954, Bao Dai had appointed Diem prime minister. In early 1955, Diem made a move to consolidate his power as the real ruler of Vietnam. Earlier in October, Bao Dai, then in France, tried to dismiss Diem, but ...read more

Big battle begins in Tay Ninh Province

The 1st Infantry Division troops are attacked in Binh Long Province (III Corps), 60 miles north of Saigon near the Cambodian border. Communist forces launched a mortar, rocket, and ground attack against Fire Support Base (FSB) Julie, eight miles west of An Loc. Soldiers from ...read more

George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act

On this day in 2001, President George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act, an anti-terrorism law drawn up in response to the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.The USA PATRIOT Act, as it is officially known, is an acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening ...read more

Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak born

On this day in 1946, Patrick Leonard Sajdak, who will one day be known to millions of game-show fans as the Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, is born in Chicago. Wheel of Fortune, which debuted in 1975, became the longest-running syndicated game show on American television, ...read more

Hurricane Mitch slams into Central America

Hurricane Mitch hits Central America on this day in 1998. The storm, the most deadly hurricane to hit the Western Hemisphere in more than 200 years, went on to kill thousands of people.The storm formed on October 8 off the west coast of Africa. For 10 days it grew larger, slowly ...read more

An abused wife gets revenge

Betty Ferreri kills her husband, Jerry, in their Los Angeles, California, home with the help of house caretaker Alan Adron. When Jerry, a notorious womanizer, brought a young model to the couple’s home in the upscale Hancock Park neighborhood, Betty became upset and threatened ...read more

An Ozzy Osbourne fan commits suicide

Nineteen-year-old John McCollum is found shot to death on his bed in Indio, California. Although it was quickly determined that the fatal wound was self-inflicted, McCollum’s parents believed that singer Ozzy Osbourne was actually responsible because their son had been listening ...read more

“Bloody Bill” Anderson killed

On this day in 1864, the notorious Confederate guerrilla leader William “Bloody Bill” Anderson is killed in Missouri in a Unionambush. Born in the late 1830s, Anderson grew up in Missouri and moved to Kansas in the late 1850s. Arriving to settle on his father’s land claim east of ...read more