LOS ANGELES — Baseball veteran Bill Buckner died Monday at 69 after battling Lewy Body Dementia, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Buckner played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and California Angels over the course of 22 major league seasons. He spent eight of those seasons playing for the Dodgers.
“After battling the disease of Lewy Body Dementia Bill Buckner passed away early the morning of May 27th surrounded by his family,” said a statement his family provided to ESPN. “Bill fought with courage and grit as he did all things in life. Our hearts are broken but we are at peace knowing he is in the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Buckner is best known for one particularly infamous moment in World Series history, in which he failed to stop a baseball from rolling between his legs during the Red Sox’s 1986 pursuit of its first World Series title since 1918. Though Red Sox fans blamed Buckner for the team’s loss that year, Buckner’s teammates backed him up and said the loss wasn’t his fault.
Despite his team’s support, Buckner received heavy criticism from Red Sox fans in the years that followed. It wasn’t until the Red Sox won their second World Series title since Buckner’s 1986 play that he said he felt redeemed, according to ESPN.
Though that notorious play ended up being a definitive one for Buckner, his career was bigger than that single moment. He was drafted by the Dodgers in 1968 and made his major-league debut one year later at age 19. After leaving the Dodgers, Buckner was the 1980 National League batting champion while playing with the Cubs and was named an All-Star selection one year later.