Bill Buckner

Birthdate 12/14/1949
Death Date 5/27/2019
Debut Year 1969
Year of Induction
Teams Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Royals
Positions Designated Hitter, First Base, Left Field

Former All Star and batting champion Bill Buckner had more career hits than Hall of Fame heroes Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio

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In the collection:

Bill Buckner played parts of four different decades in the big leagues

Bill Buckner played parts of four different decades in the big leagues

Selected in the second round of the 1968, Bill Buckner began his career in professional baseball when he signed with the Dodgers as an 18-year old. Shown here is that contract, dated June 21st, 1968. The contract calls for Buckner to make a measly $500 per month while playing for the Rookie League
When Buckner signed his first professional contract he was 18 years old

When Buckner signed his first professional contract he was 18 years old

The 1968 draft by the Dodgers was one of the greatest in professional sports history. Los Angeles drafted former batting champ Bill Buckner, 1974 MVP Steve Garvey, 194-game winner Doyle Alexander, and former All Stars Ron Cey and Davey Lopes. Buckner signed on June 21, 1968. Shown here is the signat
USA Passport issued to 19-year old Bill Buckner

USA Passport issued to 19-year old Bill Buckner

In the collection is this passport issued by the United States to baseball star Bill Buckner during his teen years. Dated just 18 days after Buckner played his final game of the 1970 season, this official document was issued on October 19, 1970. Buckner used this passport to player winter ball in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Though his status as a
Signature page of Bill Buckner's personal USA passport

Signature page of Bill Buckner's personal USA passport

A picture of 19-year old Bill Buckner adorns the inside page of the player’s USA passport issued in 1970. Buckner has signed his more familiar autograph with his first name. The inside of the document is an international certificate of vaccination with a more formal and legal, “William J. Buckner”. Buckner wasted no time in putting the passport to use.
Bill Buckner's initial 1968 contract with Topps Chewing Gum to appear on baseball cards

Bill Buckner's initial 1968 contract with Topps Chewing Gum to appear on baseball cards

Topps approached Bill Buckner with a contract to appear on baseball cards. Imagine the thoughts running threw his head, just six months after his 18th birthday. In the collection is the contract Buckner signed to first appear on the cardboard keepsakes. Buckner’s signature appears next to Top
Backside of first Topps contract; Buckner tried to forge his mom's signature for consent

Backside of first Topps contract; Buckner tried to forge his mom's signature for consent

On the back side of the contract is the parents consent signature line. Because of Buckner’s age, he would need one of his parents to grant permission to sign the contract. It appears Buckner has written his mother’s name on the signature line. It’s easy to picture an 18-year old coming up with this “solution”.
Bill Buckner first Topps baseball card contract extension, 1969

Bill Buckner first Topps baseball card contract extension, 1969

Bill Buckner’s first contract with Topps was for a five-year term. Though it did not expire until 1973, Topps signed Buckner to an extension in ’69. Shown here is that first contract extension that Buckner signed with the Topps Chewing Gum company. One can imagine how excited the 19-year old Buckner was in 1969. He played Major League Baseball until age 40.
Bill Buckner debut on 9/21/69; this ticket admitted a lucky fan to that game

Bill Buckner debut on 9/21/69; this ticket admitted a lucky fan to that game

This ticket gained one lucky fan admission to Bill Buckner’s MLB debut on September 21, 1969. Buckner went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter in a game that was started by two Hall of Fame pitchers, the  Giants’ Gaylord Perry and the Dodgers’ Jim Bunning. This game was the only contest he
Bill Buckner's 1970 contract to appear on stamped autographed baseballs

Bill Buckner's 1970 contract to appear on stamped autographed baseballs

Souvenir stands in baseball stadiums across America carry baseballs with the stamped autographs of the members of the home team. To have their signatures appear on such balls, players sign contracts with the Autographed Baseball Company. Shown here is Buckner’s contract with the company. Dated
Bill Buckner first appeared on this baseball card for Topps Chewing Gum

Bill Buckner first appeared on this baseball card for Topps Chewing Gum

The first Bill Buckner baseball card from the 1970 Topps set is shown here. This card is titled “1970 Rookie Stars” and also features Jack Jenkins. Buckner was a star in the making by 1970. He played in 22 big league seasons. Jenkins pitched in eight games in his career, going winless. He went 1-for-7 with five strikeouts as a hitter.
Topps Chewing Gum plays a little less than you think to have players appear on baseball cards

Topps Chewing Gum plays a little less than you think to have players appear on baseball cards

The first year Bill Buckner played in as many as 100 games was 1971. The Major League minimum salary that season was $12,750. Many big leaguers making the minimum had off-season jobs to help augment their income. They welcomed any endorsement opportunities. Shown here is a pair of checks made out to
1971 Topps Chewing Gum Sports Department checks endorsed by Bill Buckner

1971 Topps Chewing Gum Sports Department checks endorsed by Bill Buckner

Many autograph collectors seek signed checks. The checks provide context to the autograph. The back of the 1971 checks from Topps to Buckner are shown here endorsed by the player. Then 21 years old, Buckner has signed his first, middle, and last name to the back of the check. Signatures from early in a player’s career are more attractive to collectors
1972 Topps contract for Bill Buckner to appear on baseball cards

1972 Topps contract for Bill Buckner to appear on baseball cards

The year following the two Topps checks above, Buckner signed another contract extension. This one calls for $75 and is signed on March 3, 1972. Here Buckner signs a more familiar, “Bill Buckner”.The 1972 season would see Buckner produce a .319 average and strike out only 19 times in 405
Bill Buckner signed endorsement questionnaire from MLBPA

Bill Buckner signed endorsement questionnaire from MLBPA

The Major League Baseball Players Association sent out questionnaires like this one to its members. The MLBPA wanted to determine what endorsements each man had. Today’s players compliment their baseball salary with off field endorsement. That wasn’t always the case. This document filled out by Bill Buckner in 1973 shows him to have no endorsements
Closeup of 1973 Bill Buckner signed endorsement questionnaire from MLBPA

Closeup of 1973 Bill Buckner signed endorsement questionnaire from MLBPA

Shown here is the closeup of Bill Buckner’s signature at the bottom of the 1973 MLBPA endorsement questionnaire. Just below his signature, Buckner has written, “LA Dodgers”, the club with which he spent his first eight Major League seasons. Buckner spent his first eight big league
1975 Topps baseball card original artwork for the back of Buckner's card

1975 Topps baseball card original artwork for the back of Buckner's card

This artwork appeared on the back of Buckner’s 1975 Topps card. The question revolves around the Dodger franchise that Buckner played for that year.

Do you know the year of Brooklyn’s only championship. Would you have gotten the trivia question right?

1976 Topps contract for Bill Buckner to appear on baseball cards

1976 Topps contract for Bill Buckner to appear on baseball cards

Yet another Topps extension, this one for 1976. Buckner goes back to his more formal, “William Joseph Buckner” on 3/25/1976. The ’76 campaign would be Buckner’s last with the Dodgers before being traded to the Chicago Cubs for Rick
1980 NL batting champion; George Brett was the AL champ

1980 NL batting champion; George Brett was the AL champ

Buckner was among the games best hitters and toughest to strike out. In 1980 he won the National League batting crown. This Topps card show him with George Brett, the American League batting champ and is signed by both. Buckner appeared in the 1981 All Star game and in the World Series in 1975 and 1
1985 Boston Red Sox payroll check for Bill Buckner

1985 Boston Red Sox payroll check for Bill Buckner

Though he played in Los Angeles and Chicago for eight years each and in Boston for only five, Bill Buckner is best remembered as a member of the Red Sox. In the collection is a payroll check from the Sox dated May 7, 1985. That season, Buckner played in all 162 games for the only time in his career
1987 Topps contract for Bill Buckner to appear on baseball cards -- final contract

1987 Topps contract for Bill Buckner to appear on baseball cards -- final contract

On this Topps contract extension, Buckner offers a variation of his signature, penning, “William J Buckner”. This is dated July 26, 1987, two days before the Red Sox traded him to the Angels.

Buckner’s ’87 contract with the Halos is shown below.

1987 Player's contract with the Angels after being released by Boston

1987 Player's contract with the Angels after being released by Boston

After committing the error in the 1986 World  Series, the Boston fans were relentless in their poor treatment of their former beloved first baseman. It got so bad that the Red Sox decided to release him. Within 72 hours Buckner had offers
1987 Player's contract with the Angels - signature page

1987 Player's contract with the Angels - signature page

The signature page has the autograph of Buckner, Angels’ VP Mike Port, and the secretarial signature of AL President Bobby Brown as signed by Bob Fishel. Contracts often supply collectors with multiple signatures. Buckner returned to his native California, albeit
1990 ticket stub for Buckner's last homer - inside the park!

1990 ticket stub for Buckner's last homer - inside the park!

Imagine the hobbled Bill Buckner hitting an inside-the-park home run. It was the last homer he’d ever hit at the big league level. The game was at Fenway Park against the Angels a little before Buckner’s release from the Red Sox. In the bottom of the fourth and two out,
1990 Boston Red Sox payroll check - -Buckner's last as a player

1990 Boston Red Sox payroll check - -Buckner's last as a player

The collection starts with Bill Buckner’s first professional contract and ends with this –  the final payroll check he received as a player. With quite a lot in between, the collection has one of the finest Buckner-related assemblies of contracts, documents, checks, and ticket stubs.

A Story about Bill Buckner

Many call it the greatest draft in the history of pro sports

August 20th, 2015 Leave a comment

In 1968, the Dodgers drafted nine players who would go on to play a total of 148 seasons in the Major Leagues, appear in 23 All Star games, total over 11,000 hits, and club more than 1,100 home runs. The two pitchers from the draft tallied 305 big league wins. Add in six Gold Glove Awards, a batting championship, an All Star MVP award, a regular-season MVP award, a World Series MVP award, and the N.L. record holder for consecutive games played, and it’s easy to see why many believe it’s the greatest draft by any team in the history of professional sports. “The draft of 1968 was historical,” said Ron Cey, one of the players drafted that year. “97% of the cream of the crop each year is supposed to fail. That draft might be the best draft in history with a bunch of guys who played 15 years or so, Bobby Valentine, Billy Buckner, Davey Lopes, Tom Paciorek, Doyle Alexander, Steve Garvey, Joe Ferguson, myself. That’s a lot of guys right there.” Cey failed to include 111-game winner, Geoff Zahn, a Dodger teammate for three seasons. The selection of those players laid the foundation for continued excellence in Los […]

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"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…"

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