More than any other sport, baseball lends itself to the phenomenon of The Goat, a fallen star who lives in a parallel purgatory, watching his lifetime of achievement outweighed by the stigma of a single moment of bad performance and bad luck, a unique aspect of a game with a long memory, a game whose defining poem is about the lack of joy in Mudville after the mighty Casey has struck out.I've always been sympathetic to the goats. While I'm not a Red Sox fan, I don't think being one justifies the crap thrown on Buckner for over 20 years. Fred Merkle played over 1600 games in his career in which he didn't commit a boner. Ralph Branca has dined out on the Thomson homer for decades, but you know it has to bug him. Still, most folks don't remember those guys for anything other than their failings, and that's pretty sad.
Maybe not as sad as the story of the aftermath of Hack Wilson's two dropped balls in Game 4 of the 1929 World Series:
"The poor kid simply lost the ball in the sun," said Cubs Manager Joe McCarthy. On the long train ride back to Chicago, the Cubs were awakened by the sound of Wilson, pounding the floor of the train with his fists and weeping. He was still crying when the team arrived in Chicago the next day.That's the sort of thing that could drive a man to drink.
Oh wait, make that definitely drive a man to drink.