No life should or can be judged by one episode or a single mistake.
Not a single one of us would welcome an examination of our weakest moment, or the moment we made what seemed like a life changing blunder.
Truth is, life is full of moments and episodes, some good and some bad, but all part of a journey of enlightenment. Hopefully, those unfortunate moments prepare us for bigger challenges that wait down the road of life.
Last week, the sports world mourned the loss of one of its greatest baseball players, Bill Buckner. While many will remember the first baseman for his thousands of base hits or numerous batting titles, others will recall a man whose life was changed by one mistake.
Fans are often unforgiving and often display a lack of compassion that only seems acceptable while sitting in bleachers. For some, it’s a license to judge, intimidate and insult participants, all of whom possess far more athletic ability than the trolls yelling from the stands.
In Boston, fans are notorious for their short attention spans and their eagerness to destroy their heroes. And Red Sox fans who had been denied a pennant for decades are second to no one when it comes to hurling insults or reminding their favorite player of his last strikeout.
It all seemed different in 1986 as the curse seemed destined to end in a World Series that features the hometown favorites against the New York Mets.
With the Red Sox up three games to two, the team needed one out to secure the title — so when a lazy ground ball dribbled toward Buckner at first, the victory seemed secure.
And why not? Buckner was one of the most dependable fielding first basemen in the league and, surely, the last out would be recorded by this hometown hero.
In one of those cases of what could go wrong did, the ball slipped under Buckner’s glove and the Mets won game six of the series and claimed the title the following game.
Despite more than three decades in baseball, numerous titles and records, the media and Red Sox fans didn’t forget the error, and the play began to define a man’s life.
Buckner was finally traded by the Red Sox and enjoyed a few more seasons playing with a number of teams and finally hanging up his cleats.
He returned to Boston for his final season in 1990 for his final season, still haunted by the indiscriminate heckling from some Sox fans.
Somewhere along the line, Buckner’s plight became the subject of documentaries alongside other famous scapegoats.
After retirement, Buckner enjoyed a successful business career and even took a turn at managing but his biggest post playing event occurred in 2008 when he returned to Boston to throw out the first pitch to former teammate Dwight Evans.
When Buckner reached the mound, he was greeted by a two-minute standing ovation from a standing room only crowd at Fenway Park. He finally achieved what one mistake has taken from him, the respect and love of fans who once blamed him for the team’s biggest blunders.
Thankfully, Buckner and those closest to him, took the error in stride, but the label of scapegoat was not the one that he wished to be remembered.
Going by the numbers, it’s certainly not a title he deserves and major league all star seems a more appropriate title.
In more than 2,500 games, Buckner recorded more than a thousand hits, including 174 homeruns and almost 500 doubles.
Boston finally won a title in 2007 and ended the curse and claiming the title of world champs, but some still remember that rolling grounder that eluded Buckner’s glove.
Buckner’s passing reminds all of us that we are better than our worst deed, or more talented than one error would indicate.
And, maybe, that’s the most important lesson learned from a man who endured and survived, and, by all accounts, was hesitant to judge his fellow man.
Hopefully, history will allow him the same dignity.