Former Cub, 1980 NL Batting Champ Bill Buckner Passes Away at 69

Though his career may be unfairly remembered for one infamous error, Bill Buckner was an excellent ballplayer who spent 22 seasons with five teams. He won the NL batting title with the Cubs in 1980, posting a career-high .324 average and retired a .289 hitter with 2,715 hits, 498 doubles, 174 home runs and 1,208 RBI in 2,517 major league games.

Perhaps most remarkable of all, especially given the way the game has changed, Buckner never struck out three times in any of those games. In fact, he went down on strikes only 453 times with 450 walks in

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Bill Buckner, a great ballplayer and beloved member of the Cubs family,” Tom Ricketts said Monday in a release. “Bill’s remarkable 22-year-career included eight years with the Cubs during which he won a batting title in 1980 and earned an All-Star appearance in 1981.

“After his playing days, Bill served as a valued member of our player development staff and was a fan favorite during his appearances at our Cubs Conventions. On behalf of the Cubs organization, I extend our sympathies to Bill’s family and his many friends.”

For Cubs fans currently in the 40-50 age range, Buckner was one of the first star players they got to know. Toiling largely on moribund teams, he gave the fans someone to root for prior to giving way to guys like Ryne Sandberg and Bull Durham. But despite a sterling career, most baseball fans know only about that costly error in the 1986 World Series.

That has changed somewhat in recent years as both the Red Sox and Cubs have broken their respective curses. What a weight that must have lifted from Buckner’s shoulders, particularly the first title in Boston.

Bobby Valentine was the first to share news of his friend’s passing and Buckner’s wife subsequently confirmed to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap that he had died from Lewy body dementia. The second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s, Lewy body dementia occurs when protein deposits known as Lewy bodies develop in brain regions involved in thinking, memory and movement.

If you’re one of the folks who didn’t know much about just how good Buckner was, please take a few moments to check out his career.

Godspeed, Billy Buck.

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