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Archive for June 3, 2019

June 3, 2019 — The way errors in sport are remembered

This past week saw major life events for a pair of athletes who became infamous in their own athletic endeavors for a single mistake.

Last Monday, Bill Buckner, the former Red Sox infielder whose error led to the game-winning run score in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, died of dementia at the age of 63.

Today, Laura Bassett, the veteran England soccer defender whose own goal in the final minute of play denied the Lionesses a berth in the 2015 FIFA World Cup final, announced her decision to retire from both club and international soccer.

The circumstances of each of these two physical errors are different in both their backgrounds and their aftermaths.

Buckner’s error continued a seven-decade history of futility and poor luck for the Red Sox baseball club — not to mention that the team wasn’t the best in its own league for much of that time. It was hoped that, in that tenth inning back on Oct. 25, 1986, that the team would win its first World Series since 1918.

The error — and subsequent loss to the New York Mets the next night in Game 7, made Buckner pretty much a pariah in the six states that make up New England. He had to move his family to Idaho after his kids were bullied in school. And it’s a pretty good turn of fate that the term “soclal media” had not been invented yet, else his Twitter feed might have been uncontrolled for years.

For Bassett’s part, her own goal denied England a chance to play the United States in the World Cup final. It ended a feel-good story for U.K. football fans, who found unlikely heroines, even though it was in England where the rules were codified more than a century ago.

In comparison to Buckner, Bassett received a lot of support on social media from the likes of Mia Hamm, Landon Donovan, and the English public.

“One time in particular you (the game of soccer) dragged me to my knees and rocked me to the core,” she said in a prepared statement. “I doubted whether I would ever trust you again, but you allowed me to confront my human nature and show my character. This gesture will last forever.”

Bassett, who played for Notts County in England, has come to live in the United States as life partner to Orlando Pride head coach Marc Skinner.