- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
BOSTON -- Bill Buckner is coming back here, and in uniform, too.
The former Red Sox first baseman has been hired to manage the Brockton (Mass.) Rox, a team in the independent Can-Am League, Rox co-owner Van Schley confirmed Tuesday.
"We're thrilled," Schley said Tuesday. "They're just crossing the t's and dotting the i's on the contract."
Buckner e-mailed his acceptance of the offer to team owner Chris Carminucci over the weekend and was expected to sign his contract Tuesday. It's a two-year deal. The Rox plan to formally introduce Buckner at the team's Hot Stove Dinner Jan. 21.
Buckner, 61, will be managing a team for the first time. He was recruited to do so by Mal Fichman, a longtime independent league manager and big league scout who, like Buckner, lives in Idaho.
"Mal and Bill have done clinics and camps together," Carminucci said, "and Mal asked him if he might have some interest in managing. We tried to get him before last year, but it didn't work out -- Bill wanted to spend time with his son, who is playing college baseball, and had some other things, but we stayed in touch."
In the end, Carminucci said, "We basically made Bill an offer he couldn't refuse. We told him, 'We want you and nobody else.' "
And, in a twist evoking memories of Connie Mack, the manager Buckner is replacing is Carminucci, who was Brockton's field manager the past two seasons while also running the club. Carminucci is owner of a business that helps out financially distressed ballclubs, and the Rox had fallen on hard times, with one former president accused of embezzling money from the club, or as Schley put it, "using it as his personal ATM."
"We used to joke around that I was CEO, president, manager and picked up the trash when I needed to," Carminucci said.
Buckner's last job in baseball was as hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox in 1996 and 1997. In 2008, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Red Sox home opener as part of the celebration of the team's 2007 World Series title.
On that occasion, an emotional Buckner spoke about coming to terms with the notoriety that has hounded him because of the error he made in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, his name becoming a cultural touchstone.
"I really had to forgive, not the fans of Boston, per se, but I would have to say in my heart I had to forgive the media," Buckner said at the time.
"For what they put me and my family through. So, you know, I've done that and I'm over that."
Carminucci said '86 never came up in his negotiations with Buckner.
"People are going to think, 'Oh, you're bringing back a controversial guy,' " Carminucci said. "No, I'm bringing back one of the best baseball people that has ever played in Boston. We think Bill will be great for the community, great for our players."
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
5hESPN Stats & Information
8hESPN Stats & Information
1dMatt Walks, ESPN.com