For over 30 years baseball fans have blamed Bill Buckner for the 1986 game 6 loss to the Mets.

This is wrong in many ways.

He DID NOT lose the game for the Red Sox.

To recap the drama, the Reds Sox led the World Series 3 games to 2. A victory in New York would give them their first World Championship since 1918. In the top of the tenth they scored twice and took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the tenth. They needed three more outs for the World Championship.

Calvin Schiraldi, a pitcher with 9 saves in the season but an ERA of 1.41 retired the first two batters harmlessly.

One more out for the World Championship.

After one strike Gary Carter singled to left.

One more out for the World Championship.

Pinch hitter Kevin Mitchell hit a soft single to center with Carter stopping at second.

One more out for the World Championship.

Ray Knight started his at bat with two strikes.

One more strike for the World Championship.

Knight hit a bloop ball over the second baseman’s head. Carter scored and Mitchell was able to go to third.

One more out for the World Championship.

This prompted a pitching change. Bob Stanley who led the team with 16 saves was brought in to get the last out pitching to Mookie Wilson.

With two strikes Wilson fouled off four pitches.

One more strike for the World Championship.

The Red Sox had thrown 5 pitches in the inning where one more strike would have won the World Series. With a 2-2 count, Stanley threw a wild pitch. Mitchell raced home and the game was tied. In replays it was a wild pitch but the catcher Rich Gedman did not move his body over and did not have a chance to block it.

The Red Sox had blown several chances to win the game. Schiraldi could not get the final out three times, once when there were two strikes. Now Stanley threw four pitches when there were two strikes and could not get the last strike before his wild pitch gave up the Red Sox lead.They no longer could win the game in the tenth.

What followed was an error by a hobbled Bill Buckner. As the weak ground ball headed to first, the Red Sox had already blown their “two runs with two outs” lead. Had he caught it, the Red Sox still would have to play into the 11th with a tie game.

So who takes the blame for the loss?

Calvin Schiraldi for failing to get the last out three times?

How about Bob Stanley and Rich Gedman for allowing a pitch to go to the backstop?

Then there was perhaps the most glaring error of all. All season, when the Red Sox needed defense they put Dave Stapleton, a young, gifted fielder at first base. Inexplicably with a two run lead Stapleton sat on the bench leaving an veteran with bad legs at first base.

Yes, the Red Sox were one strike from a World Championship on five different pitches. Two quality relievers could not get the last out. There was a wild pitch which blew the lead.

In the end who got the blame? A player who should have been on the bench for a younger, healthier fielder.

Yes, this was a terribly painful loss for the Red Sox which only got worse when they lost game 7. However, it was Bill Buckner who caught all the ire and anger of Red Sox fans while Schiraldi, Stanley, Gedman and manager McNamara escaped unnoticed.

Painful losses most commonly trigger immense anger as a reaction to the pain. This loss was no different. However, in this case the anger was totally misplaced.