Bill Buckner retires from baseball

The former major-league star has been Boise’s hitting coach the past two years.

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comMarch 4, 2014 

— Bill Buckner was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968. He made his major-league debut the next season. For many of the past 44 summers, Buckner has been in uniform — playing, managing or coaching.

Not this summer.

Buckner, 64, announced Monday he is retiring from baseball after two summers as the Hawks hitting coach.

“Just too much time away,” he told the Idaho Statesman. “My wife has put up with it for 30-something years.”

Buckner said he kicked around the idea for several weeks before making his decision. Buckner and his wife, Jody, have lived in Boise and surrounding areas since he retired from playing in 1990.

“I know that Jody would want me to be home. It was just the right thing to do,” he said. “I’ve been doing it a long time, and it’s been great.”

The Hawks reached the postseason in both years with Buckner on staff. Boise also broke several offensive team records.

“I will miss it. I enjoyed it,” he said of his time with the Hawks. “I enjoyed working with the kids. Some of them I worked with the last couple years are getting at-bats in spring training now. That’s fun to watch.”

Hawks manager Gary Van Tol said Buckner’s work helped instill confidence in hitters.

“Hitting is the toughest skill to teach in baseball, but Buck kept it simple and consistent. He was at his best in the cage helping players build their swing before the game, in the dugout helping them with their approach and plan to the game,” Van Tol said in a statement released by the team.

In 22 major-league seasons, Buckner collected 2,715 hits and posted a .289 batting average. He played for the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, Angels and Royals and made one All-Star team.

Buckner was the White Sox hitting coach in 1996 and 1997 and, after a hiatus, managed the Brockton Rox of the independent CanAm League in 2011.

He said right now he is trying to play golf and fish. His health, Buckner said, is not an issue, though he joked he’s happy not to have to pick up all those baseballs in the batting cage. “It’s just the right thing to do,” he said. “I’m happy with the decision.”

He returned to Boise, in part, to spend more time with his family. But still he felt the job led to too much time away.

“It’s just too much time gone. Three months in Arizona (for spring training and instructional ball), then coming here, even though you’re home half the time, you’re still at the park most of the time,” Buckner said.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @murphsturph

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