Saturday, August 07, 2010
Hangin' With Billy Buck
After the Red Sox' heartbreaking loss in the 1986 World Series, I was asked many times over the years by many people what I thought about Bill Buckner and that infamous error.
I would always tell people that if I ever met Buckner, I would shake his hand and thank him for all the memories and tell him how much I appreciated everything he did in bringing a pennant to Boston in 1986.
I never blamed Buckner. He should never have been on the field in that 10th inning. In every Sox postseason win that October, Dave Stapleton was at first for every single ninth (or extra) inning.
As the years have gone on, I firmly believe that John McNamara cost the Sox the World Series title. He made some very poor moves in both Games 6 and 7 that ended up a Mets championship win.
Buckner played hurt in 1986, as his bad ankles were just worse and worse the more he played. (Remember those high topped spikes he wore?) He was a vital part of the 1986 team, driving in 102 runs that season. I'll always remember him for his 2700 hits, his batting title in 1979 with the Cubs, and his hustle and grit on the field. I also choose to remember the great ovations he received at Fenway when he returned as a player in 1990, and on Opening Day in 2008 when the Red Sox invited him back after their World Series win (pictured).
So, last Monday, my job as a background actor led me to Harlem, where I was part of the filming of an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." I was in a crowd scene in an episode at a fire in a six story apartment building. Larry David, the star of the show, was there and in the show, a friend is in the building with her daughter and they are trapped in the fire. But he's not there alone. He brought a friend with him.
The friend was a softball player who was on another team, and during a recent game, hit a grounder to Larry in the bottom of the seventh as he was playing first base. Larry was distracted and the ball went through his legs, letting the winning run score.
The friend was none other than Bill Buckner.
The woman in the building is urged by the firemen there to drop her baby out the window, and when she does, it bounces off the net they are holding, and Bill sees the baby and makes a diving catch before the child hits the pavement. The crowd goes wild, and after the firemen reunite the baby and mom, they pickup Billy Buck on their shoulders as the hero as crowd chants, "Buck-ner!" "Buck-ner!"
I can't wait to see this episode.
It was an all-day filming, and at about noon, there was a break in the shoot, so I went over to Bill and introduced myself to him as "The Lt. Governor of Red Sox Nation New York." He smiled and I chatted with him briefly. He was very amiable, and I thanked him for all he had done in his career with the Sox. He thanked me and I was really thrilled to meet him. He's the first member of the 1986 AL Champion Red Sox I have ever met.
Throughout the day, he was chatting with everyone around him, including the background actors. He certainly came across as very friendly and personable, and with this episode, where at first he is mocked but ends up a hero, is now comfortable with his legacy.
The new season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" begins later this year, and this episode is one of the later ones. It was so cool to meet Bill Buckner, and get the chance to talk with him and shake his hand. I never would have guessed it would have been on a street corner in Northern Harlem.
One of the great fringe benefits of being in show business.