The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Dale Anderson
Sports Columnist 

Worst Seat In The House: Age

 


As I get older I notice things a bit differently than others do. Maybe you do the same. When I hear or read about the death of someone I vividly remember from my younger days it makes me think about why I remember that person.

This past week the sporting world lost two athletes. The first was former Green Bay QB Bart Starr who passed away at the age of 85. Starr was the winning QB in the first two AFL-NFL World Championship games which would later be known as the Super Bowl.

I wasn’t a Green Bay fan like my brother Don was. It seemed that every team that I would root for would get beat by Green Bay back in the 1960’s. The only time I ever wanted Dallas to win (I liked Don Meredith) was during the infamous Ice Bowl, which was the NFL championship game. On December 31, 1967 the Cowboys and Packers were playing for the opportunity to play the Kansas City Chiefs for professional football supremacy.

Playing in subzero conditions on a frozen field made it difficult for anyone to get good footing. Trailing 17-14 late in the 4th quarter Starr took it upon himself and ran a QB sneak via Sandpoint and U of Idaho great Jerry Kramer’s block that led the Packers to victory 21-17.

A season later, Starr would again lead the Packers to a world title this time defeating the Oakland Raiders 33-14. Because of the dominance that the Packers had on the Chiefs and Raiders many felt that the AFL had to improve a lot before they would ever be able to compete with the NFL. Of course just one year later all of that would change.

As a sports fan my appreciation for Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers has increased over time. You can hate the uniform but you’ve got to respect the athlete and Bart Starr was a class act and made the NFL so much better.

Then on Monday we heard about the death of Bill Buckner at the age of 69. Buckner became famous when he committed an error in the 1986 World Series that allowed the New York Mets to beat the Boston Red Sox and tie the series at 3 games apiece and then win the series the next night at Shea Stadium in New York.

I wasn’t a Met fan or a Red Sox fan for that matter but I was a Bill Buckner fan and when that error was committed I felt horribly for him. You see in the late 1960’s I had the chance to see Buckner play for the Triple A Spokane Indians who were a Dodger affiliate. The 1970 Spokane Indians are considered the greatest minor league team of all time and Buckner was an outfielder for that team.

By getting the chance to see Buckner play I really liked his game and he was a really good hitter. As Buckner progressed as a Los Angeles Dodger it was great to see him do well. But I wasn’t happy when the Dodgers traded him to the Chicago Cubs. I still liked watching Buckner play and was still a fan. For some reason his game clicked with me.

I’m sure that you have seen the World Series error that the sure handed Buckner made on that fateful night in New York in October of 1986. It continued the curse of the Bambino that plagued the Boston Red Sox for another 18 years. The seemingly innocent ground ball went under Buckner’s glove and two runs scored in the bottom of the night leading to a game seven.

It seems that I’ve seen that replay a 100 times if I saw it once and a lot of questions go through my mind when I see it. Why didn’t the ball bounce up into Buckner’s glove? Why didn’t Buckner put is glove on the dirt so the ball wouldn’t go under it? Why didn’t the Red Sox manager put in a defensive replacement in the ninth inning?

We can’t change history with what ifs. I didn’t like Bill Buckner less for the error and I know many didn’t forgive that play but humans no matter how great they are make errors.

I’m lucky to have seen Bill Buckner play and appreciate what he meant to the game of baseball. Even at my age I was still a fan of his.

 

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