Buckner returns to Boston

“We’ve all seen the replay dozens of times. Mookie Wilson hits a weak grounder to first, and as Bill Buckner bends down for another routine grounder, the ball bounces just beneath his glove and into right field. Ray Knight scores the winning run to force a Game 7, and we all know how that played out.”

We’ve all seen the replay dozens of times.

Mookie Wilson hits a weak grounder to first, and as Bill Buckner bends down for another routine grounder, the ball bounces just beneath his glove and into right field.

Ray Knight scores the winning run to force a Game 7, and we all know how that played out.

Buckner returned to Fenway Park and received a standing ovation and threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the Tigers-Red Sox game Tuesday night.

It was surreal to see nearly 40,000 fans on their feet cheering for a man they ostracized for years for what you’d think could be mistaken for murder.

After hearing Boston fans speak of their hatred of him for so long, I never thought I’d see them cheer for him.

At the post game press conference, Buckner said, I really had to forgive not the fans of Boston per se, but I would have to say, in my heart, I had to forgive the media.

I love that Buckner didn’t forgive the fans of Boston.

Why should he?

Red Sox fans made Buckner’s life a living hell for years, and now they cheer for him because the team has won two World Series in 4 years?

Absurd.

Had the Red Sox not won the World Series in 2004 and again 2007, Buckner would still be hated by all Boston fans, even those who have since jumped on the bandwagon.

He wouldn’t be able to show his face on Yawkey way, let alone throw out any kind of ceremonial first pitch.

He’d still be hounded by Boston fans anywhere he went.

He’d still be cursed at for letting a weak grounder slip right below his glove.

He’d still be thanked by obnoxious Mets fans every time he shows his face in public.

Do fathers in Boston still tell their sons about the pain Buckner brought on them when they were young? Or do they tell them the success stories of the 8 game win streak that Boston went on to win the ALCS and World Series in 2004? How about the Red Sox’s sweep of the Rockies in 2007?

What you don’t hear Boston fans bring up when speaking of Buckner is how big of an impact he had on the team that year.

Down the stretch, Buckner hit .340 with 22 RBIs and 8 homeruns.

Facing elimination in the ALCS, Buckner singled in the ninth inning to start a rally that eventually led to a Dave Henderson homerun to win the game.

Everything is good and well in Boston since they have finally tasted success after nearly a century without it.

Their fans have forgiven Buckner for something they were desperately holding onto for far too long because he played such a major role in both of their recent World Series victories.

He can finally return to the scene of the crime without being harassed relentlessly.

The fans can cheer for him. They can include him in their World Series celebrations, should they have more in the future.

They can conveniently forget the threats they made on him and his family.

But there is nothing the Red Sox Nation can do to take back the pain and horror they put the Buckner family through for a botched groundball.