James Patrick Buckner
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 8", Weight 165 lb.
- School Yavapai College
- High School Napa High School
- Born ~1953
Jim Buckner, the brother of major leaguer Bill Buckner and scout Bob Buckner, and cousin of major leaguer Matt Carson and college coach Clayton Carson, played minor league baseball from 1972 to 1981. He played parts of 4 seasons in AAA, including one full year in Mexico. He stole over 200 bases in the minors and led his leagues in several categories.
Jim was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the 29th round of the 1972 amateur draft. He broke into pro ball with a bang - hitting .353/.393/.654 with 13 triples, 17 homers, 74 runs, 62 RBI and 30 steals (only caught 4 times) in 77 games for the Lewiston Broncs. He was second in the Northwest League in average (22 points behind Jerry Turner) but led in slugging (121 points ahead of Turner), OPS (28 points ahead of Turner), runs (13 more than anyone else), hits (113, 14 more than anyone else), doubles (18), triples (4 ahead of the runner-up), home runs (four ahead of the runner-up), RBI (6 more than anyone else) and total bases (208, a whopping 68 in front of the #2 man). He also was third in steals. As of 2002, he still held NWL single-season records for hits, total bases and triples though his hit mark fell to Dan Robertson in 2008. He was an easy pick for the NWL All-Star outfield alongside Turner and Nathaniel Clayton.
Jim was back to Earth, more or less, for the 1973 Lodi Lions. His batting line read .276/.343/.346, though he did steal 50 bases in 57 tries. He was second in the California League in swipes, a distant 32 behind Kenzie Davis. He split 1974 between the Lodi Orioles (.342/.395/.474 in 29 G) and Asheville Orioles (.283/.342/.457, 17 HR in 105 G). His 14 assists tied Mike Poepping for second among the Southern League outfielders, four behind Larry Harlow, while the little flyhawk tied Curtis Moore for fourth in homers, behind three future or former major leaguers.
Returning to Asheville in 1975 despite his fine '74, he batted .270/.317/.397 with 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases. He had 16 assists, tying Tom Poquette and Wayne Gross for second among SL outfielders, four shy of Gary Woods. Buckner then went south to play for the 1976 Monterrey Sultans in Mexico, hitting .309/.382/.401 with 17 steals in 27 tries. In '77, he returned to the US and remained over .300 at .313/.348/.444 for the Midland Cubs in the Chicago Cubs chain. In 1978, he split time between Midland (.356/.405/.504, 33 SB in 67 G) and the Wichita Aeros (.246/.296/.319 in 60 G). He led Cubs farmhands that year with 39 steals, 15 times caught stealing and 8 triples (tied with two others in that category).
The veteran began 1979 with the Minnesota Twins' Toledo Mud Hens and finished with the New York Mets' Tidewater Tides. It was a rough year as his batting line was only .225/.273/.291. He did field .993, one positive. In 1980, he was with the Jackson Mets (0 for 8, BB) and with the Pittsburgh Pirates' Buffalo Bisons affiliate. He had a good year with Buffalo, batting .282/.331/.462 with 16 home runs and 19 steals in 26 tries. He tied Paul Herring for 8th in the Eastern League in homers and nearly led the league's outfielders in fielding (his .9836 was just behind Keathel Chauncey's .9841).
Jim ended his career in 1981, spent with the Kansas City Royals chain and back in Mexico. He hit .264/.345/.405 in 45 games for the Jacksonville Suns, was 4 for 34 with a double and four walks for the Omaha Royals and batted .267/.317/.280 in 23 games for the Campeche Pirates.