9/26/2005

4rilla reveals his run in with Bill Buckner!


We've got one week left in the baseball season and the Red Sox are deadlocked with the hated Yankees for the lead in the AL East, and both teams are sitting on the outside looking in regarding the AL wild card. I figured it would be a good time to bust out my Bill Buckner story. This little run in up to now has been my "15 minutes of fame" in my 30 years of life. It does make a decent story though.

During the two summers after high school I would go to a fair amount of Pawtucket Red Sox games on my own. I guess I was probably going to about 20 games a year over that period of time. McCoy Stadium was about a 40 minute drive from my parents house, and it was a great way to get out of the house, have some fun, not spend too much money etc.... In retrospect the Paw Sox lineupsof those years didn't really produce many long term major leaguers except maybe Scott Hatteburg, John Flaherty and Aaron Sele. But I guess I'm getting away from the story.

At this point and time Bill Buckner was a batting instructor for the Syracuse Sky Chiefs. After the game I was pretty much hanging out in the parking lot near the players exit. Well Buckner comes out through the double doors, with a big bushy mustache and a horrible yellow Hawiian shirt while carrying a duffel bag and a garment bag. To my surprise and dismay people start asking for his autograph. So of course at this point I have having my own 1986 flashbacks and meltdown. Billy Buck made me shed a tear that night in 86, sitting on my living room floor. Eleven years old at the time, and watching the ball go through his legs in stunned astonishment. He took that moment away from me and everyone else in the fellowship of the miserable at that time. So I figured it was the one chance that I would have had to say my piece. And of course I have big brass balls, because I was as stupid and ignorant as most 18 year olds are at that time.

So these people are asking for his autograph, and I say plenty loud for all to hear, "Don't give him that ball, he'll just drop it!" This caused a bit of a rumble in the crowd and Buckner's head was on a swivel trying to see where the wiseass was. So he takes off and returns about 2 minutes later without his bags and demands to know, "Who said that?" Whoops!! So now I just kind of turn my back to him and kind of try to distance myself from him a bit. Too late..... An old bag points at me and say,"It was him, it was this kid right here!" Next thing I know Bucker comes up at me from behind and grabds me by the shirt and the neck and spins me around. He then pretty much puts me in a double fisted chokehold and gets right in my face, nose to nose. I think he was even lifting me off the ground at this point. He was fucking enraged. He began screaming at me, telling me I needed some manners, wanted to know when we were going to stop and leave him alone, and wanted to know why I was such an asshole...... Ushers from inside the stadium then came and broke the whole thing up......

This story could continue, but my attention span has worn out for the moment. I've attatched a couple articles about the incident from The Boston Globe. Rick Reilly even wrote a backpage article on it in SI shortly after it happened.
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PAWTUCKET FAN ERRS IN REMARK TO BUCKNER

It has been nearly seven years since the 1986 World Series and Game 6, when Mookie Wilson's grounder went between Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner's legs, costing Boston the game and eventually the World Series.

It is a memory Buckner has been trying hard to erase. Buckner doesn't like talking about the error or hearing about it. He's openly refused to talk to reporters unless they promise not to ask about that infamous play.

So, when 18-year-old 4RILLA of Fall River rekindled the memory Sunday night at a Pawtucket Red Sox game, Buckner didn't take it lightly.

4rilla confirmed last night that he and Buckner, now a roving minor league hitting instructor for the Toronto Blue Jays, were involved in a brief scuffle outside McCoy Stadium after 4rilla told a younger fan not to give a card to Buckner to be autographed "because he may drop it."

Reached at his home last night, 4rilla would not comment further on the situation. He said Buckner came after him moments after he yelled at Buckner, ''and then he grabbed me by the throat, lifted me up and spun me around." No complaint was filed with Pawtucket police and 4rilla said he will not press charges.

In an article in the Providence Journal-Bulletin yesterday, Buckner admitted chasing 4rilla after he heard the comment. Reportedly, Buckner autographed the card for 13-year-old Ben Enos of Pawtucket outside the stadium lobby and walked to his car to drop off his bags before returning to the area to search for 4rilla.

"I picked him up by the shirt collar and told him he had better watch what he says," said Buckner in the article. "It got his attention, didn't it?"

According to 4rilla, ushers grabbed Buckner and separated the two. After the incident, Syracuse manager Nick Leyva spoke with 4rilla in the Chiefs clubhouse and 4rilla apologized for making the comment to Buckner.

Chiefs radio announcer Doug Sherman said that no reporters saw the incident
because it happened outside the stadium after the game had ended around 9:30 p.m. Sherman said that heckling Buckner is common at McCoy.

"He definitely takes his abuse," Sherman said. "In Pawtucket the fans are very vocal and very knowledgeable. Unfortunately, they're also rabid. He's just ridiculed to no end there. This is not an isolated incident. He hears it all the time.

"I've seen him take a lot of ribbing but he's never snapped. Here's a guy who got 2,700 hits and all people remember him for is one error. I certainly don't blame him for his reaction."

Nick Gates, a Knoxville News-Sentinel writer who covers Toronto's Southern League team, for which Buckner is also a hitting instructor, agrees.

"He's real sensitive about that. I tried asking him about the error once when his ball was up for sale and I got barked at pretty good. That was 1986 and he's still very touchy about it. Who can blame him?"
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THE ERROR OF OUR WAYS: BUCKNER FORCED TO MOVE

DAN SHAUGHNESSY

BALTIMORE -- Bill Buckner says he's had enough. It's been almost seven years since his error ended the apocalyptic, cataclysmic Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and Buckner says he's tired of hearing about The Error. He's moving from his Andover, Mass., home. He says the Buckners will move either to Idaho or northern California.

"At least once a week during the baseball season, I hear something said," says Buckner, who played in the Old-Timer's game during this week's All-Star festival at Camden Yards. "I'm definitely out of there. I don't want to hear it anymore."

It. Buckner doesn't even mention the word error when he talks about it. You can have a 20-minute conversation with him, talking about the incredible unfairness of it, and he will never identify what it is. He doesn't have to. It needs no explanation or identification.

"My kids are getting older, and now they're hearing about it," he says. ''I don't want my kids hearing about it all the time. Moving will be a little harder for my oldest daughter, but we're going. Maybe to Idaho. Later this week, we're going to check out Napa Valley."

Nonstop heat for one ground ball between the wickets is not the only reason Buckner is leaving our area, but he says, "That's part of it. Why put up with it when you don't have to? People in Boston generally have been pretty good. There was the rally after we lost the World Series. And Opening Day in 1990. But people still seem to mention it, and I don't want to hear about it. I'm tired of it. Too many good things happened to me. Playing in the World Series. All-Star Game. A batting title. A lot of good things."

The reality is that Buckner is doomed to spend the rest of his life hearing about it. There is no safe house when you are a symbolic figure of a singular, whopping moment of failure. There is nothing fair about it, but this is the way it works. Bill Buckner is like the captain of the Exxon Valdez. The seaworthy captain no doubt brought the barge in safely hundreds of times, but he forever will be associated with the one he beached. The majority of American voters do not remember Gary Hart for any of his fine work in the United States Senate. They remember Donna Rice.

Sports failure in the 20th century is equally unforgiving. Ralph Branca for 42 years has been asked about one pitch he threw. Scott Norwood is going to be asked about the field goal attempt that went wide. Chris Webber is going to be asked about calling the timeout he didn't have.

Buckner feels he has been patient. But he says he's had enough.

"I don't like having to react to the public," he says. "For the most part, they've supported me, but I don't want to be a part of it anymore."

There was an unfortunate episode in Pawtucket, R.I., last week. Buckner, a roving minor league hitting instructor for the Toronto Blue Jays, was working with the Syracuse ballclub in Pawtucket. After the game, he was signing some autographs when a young man made a wisecrack.

"I was walking out of the park, carrying my bag," Buckner says. ''Somebody asked for an autograph, and another guy said, 'Don't give him a ball, he'd just drop it anyway.' I got to my truck to put my bag inside, and I started thinking about it. I went back and found out who said it, and I picked the guy up by the shirt collar. I lifted him up. That got his attention."

It got the attention of a lot of folks. There were apologies from the ballpark officials. No charges were pressed. There were stories in the newspaper. Bill Buckner and The Error again were in headlines. And now we find out that it's driving him out of our area.

We in the media are part of the problem. There is no getting around it. ''You guys are the worst," he says. "Media. Television. You bring it up all the time."

Buckner was a terrific big league hitter. He played hurt. He never ducked the media. But he was not lucky. Carlton Fisk was lucky. He hit one important homer that has been replayed thousands of times. It wasn't much of a hit, really, but the circumstances magnified the deed into almost mythological proportion. Buckner's misplay happens 100 times a year. But timing is everything.

There is nothing particularly funny about this anymore. Donnie Moore, the goat of the 1986 ALCS, killed himself a few years later, and Moore's agent blamed The Pitch. Bill Buckner has beautiful, young, impressionable children. And now they are hearing about a play that happened seven years ago. And now a young family is moving.

Buckner always has been strong about his place in baseball infamy. But now his patience is wearing thin.

"I'm tired of being that way," he says. "We're moving."

*I've substituted 4rilla for my real name in the newspaper articles. *

1 comment:

timmay!!!!! said...

strangely hilarious