William Joseph Buckner (December 14, 1949 – May 27, 2019) was an American professional baseball first baseman and left fielder, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for five teams from 1969 through 1990, most notably the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox. Beginning his career as an outfielder with the Dodgers, he helped the team to the 1974 pennant with a .314 batting average, but a serious ankle injury the next year eventually led to his trade to the Cubs prior to the 1977 season. The Cubs moved Buckner to first base, and he enjoyed his greatest success with the team, winning the National League (NL) batting title in 1980 with a .324 mark, and being named to the All-Star team the following season as he led the major leagues in doubles. After setting a major league record for first basemen with 159 assists in 1982, Buckner surpassed that total with 161 in 1983 while again leading the NL in doubles, before feuds with team management over a loss of playing time resulted in his being traded to the Red Sox in the middle of the 1984 season.
During the 1985 season, Buckner emerged as the Red Sox stalwart first baseman, starting all 162 games and shattering his own big league record with 184 assists. Toward the end of the 1986 season, he was hobbled by leg injuries and struggled throughout the playoffs. Buckner’s tenth-inning error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets remains one of the most memorable plays in baseball history; it was long considered part of a curse on the Red Sox that kept them from winning the World Series, and led to years of fan anger and public mockery that Buckner handled graciously before being embraced by Red Sox fans again after their 2004 World Series victory.
After spending his last few seasons with the California Angels, Kansas City Royals, and a second stint with the Red Sox, Buckner became the 21st player in MLB history to play in four decades, ending his career with 2,715 hits and 498 doubles, having batted over .300 seven times with three seasons of 100 runs batted in (RBI). Never striking out 40 times in a season, he finished with the fifth-lowest strikeout rate among players whose careers began after 1950. Buckner led his league in assists four times, with his 1985 mark remaining the American League (AL) record, and retired with the fourth-most assists by a first baseman (1,351) in major league history, despite not playing the position regularly until he was 27 years old. After retiring as a player, he became a real estate developer in Idaho, and later coached a number of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams before leaving baseball in 2014.
He is also known as William Joseph Buckner and William Joseph "Bill" Buckner.
Buckner died on May 27, 2019, of Lewy body dementia. He was surrounded by his family members at the time of his death.
In a statement, Buckner's family said, "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's funeral service was held at Calvary Chapel in Boise, Idaho.