How Bill Buckner & Mookie Wilson Turned Game 6 Photo Into Revenue Stream
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images. Pictured: Bill Buckner, Mookie Wilson
Roughly 10 years after the ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs, autograph king Brandon Steiner had an idea: What if I could convince Buckner to sign pictures of his worst career moment?
Steiner Sports was based in New York and as the Yankees market started to pick up, he needed something for the Mets. His mind went back to their last title in 1986 and the moment that defined that title.
Mookie Wilson’s ground ball that went through Buckner’s legs to win Game 6.
“I wasn’t sure how he would react,” Steiner recalled Monday, on the 35th anniversary of the game. “But he was a very easy guy to deal with and quickly he was on board.”
Buckner, who played in parts of 22 Major League Baseball seasons and had more than 2,700 hits, seemed to know that his worst moment on the field was going to be his meal ticket.
It would not be understood at the time, but it was the best-selling autographed piece in the history of Steiner Sports, founded in 1987 and sold to Fanatics in 2019.
“We might have sold 250,000 Jeter autographs, but it was on a myriad of items,” Steiner said. “We sold over 100,000 of those same photos signed by Mookie and Bill.”
Steiner said that, year over year, it was the perfect gift for Mets fans and for Mets fans who wanted to send it to Red Sox fans. In 2004, when the Red Sox finally won another title, sales slowed a bit, but Steiner said it picked up again in 2011 when Buckner was written into a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where he made a life-saving grab of a baby.
“In the beginning, Bill had some fun, writing inscriptions like ‘Oops,’ and ‘My bad,'” Steiner said. “But he started to take flack for it and stopped. After the Red Sox won a couple titles, he felt like he could go back to it.”
Having been together through signings, Steiner said that Mookie Wilson and Buckner, who passed away at the age of 69 in 2019, became good acquaintances.