Appreciate all the little moments

One single moment in time can have a big impact on our lives.

We were reminded of that once again last week when we learned of the deaths of Bart Starr and Bill Buckner.

Both are remembered as professional athletes, Starr as quarterback with the Green Bay Packers and Buckner as a first baseman and outfielder with the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, Angels and Royals.

Starr, who died May 26 at the age of 85, helped helped lead the way as play in the National Football League moved from a ground-oriented game to a passing-dominated game. Under the direction of legendary coach Vince Lombardi, he led the Packers to five NFL titles (including wins in the first two Super Bowls, games in which he was named the MVP), took league MVP honors in 1966, was selected to the Pro Bowl four times and was named All-Pro twice. His efforts earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Even with a career completion rate of 57.4 percent that put him among the best of all time, the play he always will be most remembered for is one that is literally frozen in the minds of football fans — his quarterback sneak for the winning touchdown in the Packers’ 21-17 victory over Dallas on Dec. 31, 1967, in the NFL title game that has been immortalized as the “Ice Bowl.”

Buckner, who died Monday at the age of 69, had a 22-year career in Major League Baseball, retiring at the age of 40 with 2,751 hits. He was an all-star and a league batting champion, finishing his career with a .289 batting average, 174 home runs and a fielding percentage of .991.

Yet for his success and longevity in the game, he will forever be remembered as the Boston Red Sox first baseman who let Mookie Wilson’s ground ball slip between his legs with two outs in the 10th inning and allowed the New York Mets to come back and win Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets also won Game 7, 8-5, to take the championship and deprive Boston of its first World Series title since 1918.

That single play made Buckner a target of a great deal of criticism from fans across New England and beyond, even though some baseball experts say it is likely Wilson, who at that time was one of the game’s fastest players, would have beaten the play if the ball had been fielded cleanly.

Buckner and Wilson would become friends, and, in 2008, the Red Sox gave him the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the home opener as the team celebrated after winning the 2007 World Series. The Fenway Park crowd greeted him with cheers that day, and Buckner considered it to be a healing experience.

All of us, from time to time, get so caught up in our lives that we can forget to appreciate all of the little moments that go into making up the big picture. It’s good to be able to take a breath and remember that each instant along the way can lead to dramatic changes in what will come, a powerful lesson to be taken from the stories of Starr and Buckner.


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