Seven-year Cubs veteran Bill Buckner bid a tearful farewell...


CHICAGO -- Seven-year Cubs veteran Bill Buckner bid a tearful farewell to his teammates as he packed his bags for Boston after Chicago announced he had been traded to the Red Sox.

'It's a very tough moment for me,' said Buckner, whose voice cracked and eyes teared in making his statement Friday to the media. 'I'm going to miss everybody. There's been some tough moments. I think you can tell it's a pretty emotional time for all of us.'


The Cubs announced that the first baseman had been dealt to the Red Sox for pitcher Dennis Eckersley and minor-league infielder Mike Brumley. Financial terms of the trade were not disclosed during a news conference at Wrigley Field.

The left-handed Buckner was relegated to the bench this season in a reorganization of the Cubs under new manager Jim Frey.

Buckner, 34, who won the 1980 National League batting title with a .324 average with only 18 strikeouts in 578 at-bats, has appeared in only 21 games this season. He had nine hits and was hitting just .209.


Buckner said his new role as a pinch-hitter and fill-in first baseman for regular Leon Durham was a key factor in his desire to be traded.

'I certainly can't belittle the fact that Bill Buckner was in a tough situation,' said Durham. 'Nobody can like it, but let's face it - I beat him out of his job. I know that any day someone can do the same thing to me.

'I admire him for keeping his cool,' he said. 'He never once came to me to knock me or get angry because he wasn't starting anymore.'

'When I saw Bill shaking hands and cleaning out his locker, I really felt for him,' said Cubs pitcher Rick Reuschel. 'I remember the sinking feeling I had (when Reushcel was traded to the New York Yankees in 1982) because it's hard to leave your friends.'

Buckner's former Dodger teammate Ron Cey, who now plays third base for the Cubs, said, 'I remember when he went to the Cubs in '77. I felt like I had lost my best friend ... it's tough to say goodbye.'

Buckner had a sometimes stormy career at Wrigley Field.

Two years ago Buckner, who did not hide his dislike for Lee Elia, became involved in a heated shoving and shouting match with the former manager during a road trip. He also had differences with previous pilot Herman Franks.


Throughout most of the 1983 season, when trade rumors for Buckner started heating up, he repeatedly said that he wanted to leave the Cubs. However, during spring training this year in Scottsdale Ariz., he turned down a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Cubs general manager Dallas Green called Buckner's departure 'an end of an era,' but said the move was for Buckner's own good.

'I think we've been able to give Bill Buckner an opportunity to go some place and play, which is something he deserves,' Green said in announcing Buckner's trade during the news conference.

Buckner came to the Cubs from Los Angeles with shortstop Ivan De Jesus on Jan. 11, 1977. He reached career highs in home runs last season with 16 and doubles with 38. Buckner came into the 1984 season just 36 hits short of 2,000.

Durham has taken over the first base slot this season and Gary Matthews has become the regular left fielder, leaving Buckner on the bench.

Eckersley, 29, has a 4-4 record this season with a 5.01 ERA and two complete games. Brumley, son of former major-league catcher Mike Brumley, plays center field and shortstop and has batted .250 with nine RBI in 30 games this season.


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