88°F
weather icon Clear

Las Vegan Marty Barrett fondly recalls teammate Bill Buckner

After speaking to Marty Barrett about his former teammate Bill Buckner, I am convinced that if ballplayers had written the obituary for the star-crossed first baseman, The Error would have been mentioned only in passing. Like at the bottom of the box score:

E—Buckner, Evans, Gedman, Knight, Elster.

It should have been a footnote, not the play that defined Buckner’s career, Barrett said.

“People think if he fields that ground ball, we win the World Series — but the Mets had already tied the game,” said the former Rancho High star, who was playing second base when Buckner, who died Monday at age 69, let Mookie Wilson’s nubber leak between his legs in Game 6 on Oct. 25, 1986.

“Things that happened before that were just as critical as that play.”

Buckner’s error let in the winning run. Two days later, New York also won Game 7, denying the Boston Red Sox their first World Series title since 1918.

Barrett, who set a major league record with 24 hits during the 1986 postseason, was standing a few feet from Buckner when the first baseman failed to field that three-hopper. The distance between them since both retired never grew much wider.

“He was one of my favorite teammates,” Barrett said. “He was a gamer, a man’s man.”

I mentioned having watched Buckner hobble around the bases at Wrigley Field, stretching singles into doubles during the 1980 season in which he won the National League batting title and hit 41 doubles. How a lot of wax-lined cups of Old Style beer were raised in the bleachers in frothy homage to his desire and reckless abandon.

It was much the same after he was traded to the Red Sox and put on cleats that looked like Army boots to support his brittle ankles. In that 1986 season, he knocked in 102 runs.

“That year he hit many home runs in the last month to keep us ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, who were trying to chase us down,” Barrett said.

Barrett agreed that casual baseball fans and even sports writers sometimes forget how clutch his former teammate was.

When he died Monday, you had to read several paragraphs into Bill Buckner’s obituary before it was even mentioned.

High Schloss finish

Former UNLV baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle and Texas Christian are back in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, although perhaps not in the way the former national coach of the year would have wanted.

The Horned Frogs sneaked in with a losing conference record and a low RPI, and not everybody was happy about it.

“No one has ever received an at-large bid with metrics this bad,” wrote Aaron Fitt on the D1Baseball website. “The elephant in the room here is the presence of Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte on the selection committee; Del Conte is one of (Schlossnagle’s) best friends. And if you don’t think it helps to have an ally on the selection committee, you haven’t been paying enough attention over the last 20 years.”

Livengood lauded

Another former UNLV athletic department personality was mentioned in a more positive light for having overseen Arizona’s climb to the NCAA’s upper echelon — a perch from which the Wildcats have tumbled with a thud.

An Arizona Daily Star report on Arizona’s downward spiral said Jim Livengood was one of three former U of A athletic directors who “all but gave a clinic on how to operate a Power Five conference athletic department” before Livengood accepted the same job at UNLV.

This was the first school year since 1983-84 that Arizona didn’t play in a football, basketball or baseball postseason game.

Finishing the job

While perfect games are not as unusual at the U.S. Bowling Congress Open Championships as they are on the baseball diamond, the one by 47-year-old Bryan Ellis of Quinlan, Texas, at the South Point Bowling Plaza on Thursday in his first game deserves a mention — it came exactly 13 years after Ellis rolled a 299 in his first game at the 2006 USBC Open.

“I wasn’t really nervous going into the 10th frame this time,” he said about how 13 years on the lanes changes one’s perspective.

0:01

Kelly Graves, Oregon’s women’s basketball coach, on the paltry salaries of female pros:

“I bought the @WNBA League Pass for $17 — best purchase ever! Would gladly double it (or more) if all the $$ went to the players.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

 

 

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST