A moment like what happened to Buckner in the 1986 World Series has ruined careers and seemed to do the same to Bill. In 1987, he played in 75 games for the Red Sox, hitting a decent .273 with 2 HR and 42 RBI, but getting his release after things got too difficult between him and the home crowd. He went to the Angels and hit .306, 3, 32 in 57 games to finish the season. In 1988, he played in 108 games for the Angels and Royals, hitting just .249, 3, 43 as he neared the end of his career. Unfortunately for Buckner, the demise of his career started with the misplay in game 6 of the World Series.
There are some doubts whether it was Buckner who solely cost the Red Sox the 1986 series. Remember, the game was tied when Wilson hit the infamous grounder. Buckner cannot be blamed for Calvin Scharaldi giving up the three straight hits when put the Mets within a run. It was Bob Stanley who threw the wild pitch which tied the game. Manager John McNamara has stated that game 6 starter Roger Clemens asked to be taken out after the 7th inning. Yet it is Buckner who took the heat from the media and fans. I think it clearly took a couple years off his career and led to him being out of the game by June of 1990.
His career numbers included 2715 hits, 498 2B and a .289 average, totals that would leave him short of the Hall of Fame. But who knows where he would have ended up if that game never happened? Could he have had another two or three prime years? 1986 was one of his top offensive seasons so its not like he was on the decline. Perhaps he gets 3000 hits, a HOF lock now a days. I know its a reach, but who knows what could have happened to a guy who retired on this date in 1990 as a member of the Boston Red Sox.