CHATHAM, NJ - Fans, collectors and sports fanatics filled the Legends Gallery in Chatham on Sunday for the opportunity to meet baseball legends Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner.
Randy Dembo, one of the store’s owners, was excited to see the crowd gathering for Wilson and Buckner. He said the 1986 World Series was an important moment in baseball and having the two there together was a unique experience for everybody.
“It’s a great moment in sports history,” Dembo said.
Wilson and Buckner are most remembered for the 1986 World Series where Buckner, first baseman for the Red Sox, allowed a ground ball by Wilson, a player on the Mets, to slip between his legs. During this play, Wilson glided across first base and the winning run scored, allowing the Mets to take the series.
Buckner, now a Class A hitting coach for the Cubs, still reflects on the game.
“The whole thing was crazy to me, it didn’t add up,” he said. “It was just the perfect storm.”
He said over time, it has become easier to accept and move forward from. According to Buckner, the slip up in 1986 brought forward some positive aspects too, like putting his two children through college.
Buckner and Wilson have been traveling together and going to signings for more than 20 years now. In the process, they have created a bond and friendship, according to the two. Buckner admitted that it was a little awkward at first, but it has become a great experience over time.
“If you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em,” he said.
Wilson thinks one of the reasons the story of the 1986 World Series is such a well-known one is because two great cities were represented in the game. One of Wilson’s favorite parts of travelling around together is catching up on each other’s lives and families.
“It’s been a great ride,” he said.
Among the excited fans waiting to meet the two baseball greats was Denise Singh. She described herself as a huge Mets fan and was eager to meet Wilson and Buckner, even though he did play for the Red Sox. According to Singh, game six of the 1986 World Series was on of the best games ever. Singh arrived at 2 p.m. in order to make sure she was at the front of the line.
“You can blame it on my husband,” she said.
Also in line waiting to meet the former players was Sister Theresa Chiappa of Morristown Memorial Hospital. She came to the gallery with two friends to get her 1986 World Series collector’s books signed by Wilson. After meeting the two, she thanked Buckner for helping the Mets win the series.
“They’ve given me some disappointment, but I’m a die hard Mets fan,” she said.
Greg Dailey, co-owner of the gallery, was happy to see many fans of all ages lining up to meet the legends. He’s been a partner at the framing based business for eight years. He said signing events like Wilson and Buckner really help the business sell autographs and it gives them new business. Despite the economy, Dailey said
the business does fairly well.
“We’re still putting the key in the door every morning and closing it at night,” he said.
According to Dailey, the gallery tries to have at least one signing a month, even though it does not always work out that way. Recently, the gallery has had athletes such as Victor Cruz and Eli Manning.
For more information regarding the gallery or upcoming appearances, please visit www.legendsgallery.net.