Saturday, October 31, 2009

1976 Topps #253 - Bill Buckner

  • Thanks to a pinch-hitting appearance late in 1969, Bill Buckner ended up being one of those rare players to play in four decades. Bill played from 1969-1990. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968 and spent most of 1968-1970 in the minors. Bill never batted below .307 in any of his minor league stops. He was brought up for good at the end of the 1970 season after batting .335 for AAA Spokane. Bill batted .191 in 28 games for the Dodgers in 1970.

  • In 1971 Bill started 77 games in right field for the Dodgers and played a few games at first base and in left field. All together Buckner played in 108 games and batted .277. He never was a real power hitter, but he developed doubles power as he got older. Bill had a nice year in 1972, which was kind of a pitcher's year. He batted .319 in 383 at bats while striking out only 17 times. Buckner could be counted on to make contact most of the time -- he didn't strike out much but he didn't walk much either.

  • Buckner split time between 1B and the outfield again in 1973 -- he started 131 of his 140 games but didn't have a regular position. He batted .275 but had only a .297 on base percentage. In 1974 Bill became the starting LF for the NL Champion Dodgers and batted .314 with 30 doubles and 31 stolen bases.

  • Bill didn't fare as well in 1975. He broke his ankle in April and batted .243 in 92 games. He didn't play after August 31. Buckner was the LA starting LF in 1976 and had a nice comeback season. He batted .301 with 28 stolen bases and 28 doubles. After the 1976 season Buckner was traded with Ivan DeJesus to the Chicago Cubs for Rick Monday and Mike Garman.
  • In 1977 Buckner played in 99 games at first base and made the rest of his appearances (122 games total) as a pinch hitter. He batted .284 in 426 AB. Bill batted .323 in 446 AB in 1978 and finished 17th in MVP voting. (August 1978 Baseball Digest - Bill Buckner: Pain is his Companion)
  • Buckner returned to full-time duty in 1979 and batted .284 in 149 games (August 1979 Baseball Digest - Bill Buckner: Profile of a Contact Hitter). Bill won the NL batting title in 1980 with a .324 batting average. In 1981 Buckner made the NL All Star team, batted .311, and led the NL in doubles with 35 (a lot for a shortened season). He tied Tom Seaver and Pete Rose for 10th in MVP balloting.
  • Bill played in 161 games in 1982 and led the NL with 657 at bats. He batted .306 and got 201 hits. In 1983 Buckner led the NL in doubles with 38 and batted .280 in 153 games.
  • In 1984 Buckner was having a hard time getting playing time with the Cubs. Leon Durham had become the starting first baseman and there wasn't anywhere else to play Bill due to his bad ankle. He batted .209 in 45 at bats, mostly as a pinch hitter for the Cubs. On May 25 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Dennis Eckersley and Mike Brumley. Buckner became the starting 1B for Boston and batted .278 for the Red Sox in the remainder of the season.
  • Buckner had one of his better years in 1985. He played in 162 games at 1B and had career highs in doubles (46) and RBI (110). He got 201 hits, batted .299, and stole 18 bases (his highest total since 1976). May 1985 Baseball Digest - Bill Buckner: The Odyssey of a Major League Survivor
  • In 1986 Bill tailed off in batting average (.267) but still had a big year in RBI (101) and in doubles (39). He was famous for missing that grounder in the 1986 World Series. He ended up wearing the goat's horns, but there was plenty of blame to go around for the Boston loss. Buckner had a tough time in 1987 and was released by the Red Sox on July 23. He signed with the California Angels on July 28 and ended up batting .286 in 132 games for the two teams.
  • Bill started slowly in 1988 (.209 in 19 games) and was released by the Angels on May 9. He signed with the Kansas City Royals on May 13. Bill ended up batting .249 for the year. Buckner was mostly a backup 1B and DH in 1989, batting .216 in 176 at bats. He was granted free agency after the season and signed with the Red Sox for the 1990 season. After starting the season batting .186 in 43 games the Red Sox released Buckner on June 5, 1990.
  • After his retirement from baseball Buckner moved his family to Boise, Idaho and invested in real estate. He also was a minority owner in Bill Buckner Motors in Emmett, Idaho from 2006-2008. Bill was welcomed back to Boston to throw out the first pitch and attend the raising of the Red Sox' 2007 World Championship banner on April 8, 2008.
  • Liked to face: Burt Hooton (.383 in 94 AB); John Montefusco, Ron Reed, Bob Welch (.354 in 65 AB vs each); Dick Ruthven (.359 in 64 AB); Rick Reuschel (.444 in 45 AB)

  • Hated to face: Tom Seaver (.221 in 104 AB); Jack Billingham (.217 in 83 AB); Doyle Alexander (.159 in 44 AB); Joe Niekro (.143 in 42 AB)


  1. Wow! Great post!

    There are few things in the world that deserve the word "fierce" but Bill Buckner's eyebrows are two of them.

  2. Great tribute to a terrific player