One can only imagine what it was like for former Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner to endure the ignominy after missing the ground ball that helped the New York Mets win the 1986 World Series.
After watching Fox Sports Net's Beyond the Glory special on Buckner's major league career, unfortunately, you're still left wondering.
Producers of the clip- and interview-heavy hour-long documentary, like their subject, let an easy one slip between their legs. There's ample footage and talk about Buckner's childhood growing up poor in Northern California and his early professional baseball career with the Dodgers and Cubs.
Viewers are treated to perspective on Buckner's early days in the majors from the man himself, family and friends — including Dodger manager and mentor Tommy Lasorda and Steve Garvey, who beat him out for the first-base job.
But when the documentary gets to what we're most curious about — how Buckner dealt with charges that he "lost" the World Series when Mookie Wilson's ground ball went through his legs — we hear more from folks like Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Bert Sugar and Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe
than we do from Buckner, his family or his teammates.
We do get a good view of why Buckner was positioned where he was before the play, thanks to him and Bosox teammates Marty Barrett and Dwight Evans. "I can't leave the whole right side of the infield open," Buckner explains. "I was playing so deep and out of position that we might not have gotten him at first base because Mookie runs well."
After "the play," Sugar, Costas and others begin a lengthy discussion of the "Red Sox curse," or the fatalism that infects Boston's baseball fans. But anyone who's followed baseball for more than a few years has heard that one before. And the one anecdote related to the play offered up by a family member — wife Jody Buckner's reminiscence of an Associated Press reporter calling the house, asking Bill if he were contemplating suicide — is also pretty well known.
It's the Buckner back story, about his injuries — Red Sox trainer Rick Zawacki says that Buckner holds the team record for iced body parts, at nine — his youth and his early days in the Dodger organization that provide the show's most compelling moments. It also makes the valid point that Buckner's mishap in game 6 of a seven-game series didn't "lose" the contest for the Red Sox, even though the documentary's contributors blame the media for that perception without sharing that onus with Boston fans — except for Sugar.
"Nobody seems to be able to count to seven up there," Sugar says in one of the documentary's funnier rants.
Beyond the Glory: Bill Buckner
bowed Sunday, April 15, on Fox Sports Net and will repeat throughout the month.