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Buckner still bitter at fans, but not Red Sox

Longtime goat Bill Buckner won't be among the millions expected to watch Saturday's parade.

By wire services
Published October 29, 2004

CHICAGO - As fans celebrate wildly, Bill Buckner hopes the Red Sox's first championship in 86 years ends the animosity aimed at him ever since his blunder in the 1986 World Series.

"They're a fun team to watch and a good bunch of guys, and they certainly deserved to win the World Series this year," Buckner told Sporting News Radio on Thursday.

Fans blamed Buckner for ruining Boston's previous chance at a World Series title, in 1986 against the New York Mets. Buckner's error on Mookie Wilson's grounder down the first-base line, which gave the Mets a victory in Game 6, became a symbol of the team's postseason failures - even though the Mets tied the game on a wild pitch earlier in the ninth inning and won the championship in seven games.

"Personally, on my end of it, I'm just a little disappointed with the whole thing. This whole thing about being forgiven and clearing my name, you know, I mean ... cleared from what? What did I do wrong? It's almost like being in prison for 30 years and then they come up with a DNA test to prove that you weren't guilty.

"I've gone through a lot of, what I feel, undeserved bad situations for myself and my family over a long period of time, and for someone to come up to me and say, "Hey, you're forgiven,' I mean, it just kind of brings a really bad taste in my mouth."

Any chance of Buckner showing up for this weekend's victory parade in Boston?

"Not a chance," he said. "Like I said, I don't want to take anything away from this team. This is their championship, this is what they did and I'm happy for them. But my team in '86 didn't win and this team did."

Even if Red Sox fans don't yet know how to deal with their fortune, they're enjoying the change. Thousands poured onto the streets of Boston after the game, while hundreds lined up to watch Boston's early morning return to Fenway.

"As we drove in the buses with a police escort, traffic was stopped everywhere, people were out of their cars," Red Sox principal owner John Henry said. "Just sheer joy, the release of all this yearning to win a world championship is just a great thing to see."

Becky Sanborn said the victory left her family struggling for words.

"We were excited, but let down at the same time because you don't know what to do," she said. "You don't know how to explain what happened."

The stunning new reality had an immediate effect on the workplace.

"We're getting the job done, but 100 percent capacity is probably a bit of stretch," said Tom Boyle, a 30-year-old financial worker. "Everybody's thrilled. People are just floating around the office."

Keith Fisher, 45, a service representative for a communications company, said people were busy hanging newspaper headlines around his office.

"It's going to take a good parade and maybe a couple of beers," he said.

The city will toast its World Series champions with a parade Saturday that will stretch from the Fenway to City Hall Plaza.

Mayor Thomas Menino announced the plans at a news conference with Red Sox president Larry Lucchino.

Shaggy-haired Johnny Damon will be in New York Monday to appear on David Letterman's show. The bat Damon used to hit a leadoff home run in Game 4 is headed elsewhere - to the Hall of Fame - for immediate display.

Nearly a dozen items commemorating Boston's first title since 1918 are headed to the Hall. Among the memorabilia are Derek Lowe's jersey, the glove used by shortstop Orlando Cabrera and the cap worn by starting pitcher Pedro Martinez in winning Game 3.

Also, the Red Sox will be the first World Series winner featured on a Wheaties box since the 1999 Yankees. The special edition package will picture slugger David Ortiz on the front of the box, along with his teammates. The box will be available in mid November.

Meanwhile, Boston's 3-0 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday night received a 18.2 rating and 28 share, the highest for Game 4 of a Series since 1995.

[Last modified October 28, 2004, 23:50:16]


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