Bill Buckner, who died Monday at age 69, settled in Boise after his star-crossed playing career ended.
In May 2003, he brought some perspective with him as the keynote speaker for the NAIA World Series banquet, held at the Lewiston Elks Lodge.
“It just goes by in a flash,” Buckner said of his playing career, which spanned four decades.
Bucker played 21 seasons and won the National League batting title as a member of the Chicago Cubs in 1980. He played in the All-Star game the following season, and was part of two teams that advanced to the World Series and lost.
Buckner’s Los Angeles Dodgers were beaten by the Oakland Athletics in 1974 and he played a pivotal role in the New York Mets’ 1986 World Series victory over Boston.
Buckner, who was playing first base for the Red Sox, committed a Game 6 error that led to the team’s ultimate demise.
While Buckner didn’t mention that particular play, he made it clear that great achievements don’t come without great risks.
“I got 2,715 hits, but I also made 7,000 outs,” he said. “That’s a lot of right turns.”
“The higher you go, the bigger you fall,” Buckner added later. “But it’s something you’d trade anything for, to play in the World Series.”
Buckner urged the NAIA Series teams to continue doing the things that brought them to this point. Above all else, he stressed commitment and teamwork.
“You have to have a lot of help along the way,” said Buckner, one of four major-leaguers to play in four decades. “I had a lot of great coaches, a lot of people that helped me out.”
“(The Series) is just a great opportunity for the players and for the community,” Buckner said.