They were the two main characters in modern baseball's tragic play (well..at least if you were a Red Sox fan). Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson still can't understand why fans are so attached to one play.
They appear together at card shows, signing hundreds of photos of a play one of them would just as soon forget.
The error committed by Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series helped propel the Mets to a comeback win in Game 6 and then onto the title. Mookie Wilson was the guy who bounced the grounder toward first that night.
This week's edition of ESPN's Outside the Lines contains a story about the two and why Buckner has learned to live with fans remembering one play more than an otherwise excellent career.
From Jim Sarni in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel:
ESPN's Outside The Lines (9:30 a.m., Sunday) relives the infamous Bill Buckner play from Game 6 of the 1986 Mets-Red Sox World Series.
Reporter Jeremy Schaap interviews Buckner and Mookie Wilson, who hit the ball that rolled through the Boston first baseman's legs. They talk about their lives 20 years since the play occurred, and how they have formed a friendship and appear at card shows together to sign pictures of the moment that links them forever.
Excerpts from the show:
"It just amazes me. I don't quite get it ... To me, that is part of sports, and it bothers me a little bit. I don't think that is what sports is all about, and I don't know if it is sending a good message to young players, you know, if you make a mistake that you are going to be criticized for 20 years." -- Buckner, on the lasting image of his error 20 years later.
"It baffles my mind that people want an autograph picture of that situation ... I have taken a lot of heat with this thing, and I might as well get something out of it." Buckner, on fans paying for an autograph photo of the play.
"I think the last thing he wants is for you to feel sorry for him. I think he would just prefer people to just to understand that is part of the game and no one died. It was just one of those things that happened in sports." -- Wilson on Buckner today.
"We talk with the fans and he is really good. I mean really. I remember the first time we did a show, and one guy was kind of, you know, he was a little rough on Bill. But he took it with a smile and we kept on going. And then people started being a little looser with him, and start making casual conversation with him, and you can get to know him a lot better doing that." -- Wilson on Buckner dealing with fans at autograph shows.