Former MLB all-star Bill Buckner speaks at UP
Former Boston Red Sox first baseman and 22-year MLB veteran Bill Buckner spoke with UP alumni and the UP baseball team about his work ethic, advice on growing as a player and overcoming his infamous error in the 1986 World Series
Tough practices aren't the only way the baseball team is preparing for the season. On Feb. 2, former MLB player and first baseman Bill Buckner spoke at the Pilots' 12th annual Diamond Dinner fundraiser event.
"It was really cool meeting someone so famous," senior catcher Beau Fraser said. "Getting to be around him and talking about baseball was a really special experience."
The team got a chance to talk to Buckner, who played for five major league teams, including the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, more directly before the event.
"He said that when he got to the minor leagues the biggest adjustment for him was realizing he had to out-work everyone around him and get a little bit better each day," said Fraser. "I think that is something I can apply and use to motivate me, that someone so good uses that mentality to get as far as he did."
As well as discussing the mental side of the game, Buckner, an all-star hitter with a lifetime batting average of .298, 2,715 career hits, 174 home runs and one batting title, talked to the team about his hitting philosophy.
"To hear his philosophy was very meaningful to us, because we are trying to be like him," said junior outfielder Nick Armenta. "He said to remember it's always a grind; 30 percent of the time you're going to feel good, 30 percent O.K., and 30 percent bad. It's how you get through the tough times that makes you a better baseball player."
Despite his successful career, Buckner is mainly recognized for making a costly error that resulted in the Boston Red Sox losing the World Series in 1986.
"Anybody heard about the 1986 error that I made?" Buckner said. "That World Series was crazy, it was the perfect storm."
Many Pilots only knew of Buckner for his infamous error. Few knew about the tremendous backlash and hatred Buckner and his family dealt with decades later from bitter Red Sox fans.
"I liked when he talked about how he's famous for the ground ball at the World Series," said Fraser. "He did so many things in his career, but to hear him talk about that and the adversity he had to deal with was powerful."
As they prepare for the season, the team will take what they learned from Buckner and how one event changed his life and apply it to their own lives.
"Those [bad] things happen in sports. It's life," Buckner said. "This is a baseball game, I missed a freaking ground ball, so what? Bottom line, baseball's a game. Everyone goes through those things in life. God doesn't give you anything more than you can handle."
So far, bad weather has forced the team to practice indoors, on the Prusinski Pitch and on Concordia University's turf field.
The team's first game is away on Feb. 15 against No. 5 Mississippi State. Armenta knows Mississippi State will be tough competition for the Pilots, but he has a bigger opponent in mind this season.
"We're our best competitor," said Armenta. "If we play the game right, we're going to win ball games."
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