Have baseball fans suddenly been struck with an epidemic of good sense? Tuesday night the ball that rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs 25 years ago in Game 6 of the World Series failed to get a single bid (bidding on eBay closed at 11:37 p.m. EST, the exact anniversary of the error). Of course, the minimum price was a million bucks, so perhaps in a time of recession even rich idiots showed a little restraint.
I tried to do a history of this ball from the moment it went through Buckner’s legs. Here’s what I got:
It was picked up by right field umpire Ed Montague, who gave it either Mookie or to the Mets traveling secretary, Arthur Richman. Whoever got the ball, Mookie autographed it to Richman. In 1992 Richman put it on bid and Charlie Sheen won it for $93,000 — the second highest bidder was Keith Olbermann. Sheen put it up for bid in 2000, and it netted just $64,000, sold to songwriter Seth Swirsky. BTW, once again, Keith Olbermann was the second bidder.
You can see what Mookie wrote on the ball on Swirsky’s website.
In 2006, Swirksy loaned the ball to the Mets for their 20th anniversary celebration, and last year he loaned it to the Mets to put on exhibit in their Hall of Fame.
One question: Since the ball was not hit into the stands, why did it not remain the property of Major League baseball? Just curious as to why no MLB official has ever requested that a ball taken off a field of play was allowed to become part of someone’s permanent collection. I mean, why isn’t it at the Hall of Fame right now?
Whatever, it’s evident that the Buckner Ball (or “The Mookie Ball,” as Arthur Richman called it) has now lost its mystique, and thank God for that. As we all know now, and should have known all along, Buckner did not lose the World Series for the Red Sox — their pitches blew a two-run lead in the 10th with nobody on base and two outs — and they could have still won it all two nights later in the seventh game of the Series.
Time, then, to take a moment and remember the real tragedy of 1986: Donnie Moore. Red Sox fans, with their narcissistic fatalism, saw themselves as the victims of that postseason. They were quick to forget that they wouldn’t have been there in the first place except for an incredible series of flukes. If you recall, the Angels were leading the Red Sox three games to one with a 5-2 lead in the top on the 9th. Moore, pitching in relief, gave up a two-run homer run to Dave Henderson that made it 6-5 Boston. The Angels tied it, but in the 11th Moore, still on the mound, gave up a sac fly to – you guessed it – Dave Henderson and the series went back to Boston with the Angels still leading 3-2. The Red Sox then shellacked Angels pitchers for 19 runs over the next two games, and the Angles and their fans went into shock.
Over the next three season, whenever Moore appeared – even when he pitched well – and often when he left the ballpark, he was the target of vicious verbal abuse. Moore already had a history of violence, but it got worse as he drank more. In 1989, during an argument with his wife, he pulled a gun and shot both his wife and daughter – they survived – and then, as his son watched, put the gun to his head and killed himself.
Moore’s case puts Buckner’s in perspective. After seeing the silliness that surrounded the auction of the Buckner ball, I’m waiting for somebody to produce the gun that Donnie Moore shot himself with and put it on eBay. I wonder what Charlie Sheen would pay for that?