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John Francis "Jack" Buck (August 21, 1924–June 18, 2002) was an Americanmarker sportscaster, best known for his work announcing Major League Baseball games of the St. Louis Cardinals. Buck received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Famemarker in 1987, and is honored with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.

Buck was recognizable by his deep, gravelly voice, penchant for sardonic irony, and his distinctive play-by-play calls. Among these were Buck's descriptions of Kirk Gibson's dramatic game-winning pinch hit home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series ("I don't believe what I just saw!"), Ozzie Smith's walk-off home run in Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series ("Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!"), Jack Clark's three-run home run two days later in Game 6 ("Adios! Goodbye! And maybe, that's a winner!"), Tom Herr's grand slam walk-off home run against the New York Mets in April 1987 ("A Grand Slam-a!"), Kirby Puckett's iconic game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series ("And we'll see you tomorrow night!"), and Mark McGwire's single season record-tying home run in 1998 ("Pardon me while I stand up and applaud.").

Biography

Early life

Jack Buck was born in Holyoke, Massachusettsmarker, the third of seven children by Kathleen and Earle Buck, who was a railroad accountant who commuted weekly to New Jerseymarker. In spite of his association with the St. Louis Cardinals, Jack grew up a Boston Red Sox fan and idolized Jimmie Foxx. When Jack was 15, his father got a job in Clevelandmarker with the Erie Railroad. A year later, Earle Buck died at the age of 49 due to high blood pressure.

As a teenager, Jack worked as a deck hand on the iron ore boats of the Great Lakesmarker. He was soon drafted into the Army where he served in World War II. In 1943, Buck became a corporal and instructor with K Company, 47th Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. On March 15, 1945, Buck was wounded in his left leg and forearm by shrapnel while crossing the last (Remagenmarker) bridge into Germanymarker to stop enemy fire. Buck was ultimately awarded a Purple Heart after spending time in a Parismarker hospital. (Years later, Buck discovered that fellow future sportscaster Lindsey Nelson was also with the 9th Infantry and was wounded in the same battle.)

Prior to his broadcasting career, Buck attended Ohio State Universitymarker, where he majored in radio speech and minored in Spanish. Buck paid for college by working at an all night gas station.

Buck crafted his play-by-play skills broadcasting Ohio State basketball games. After college, he spent the 1953 season as voice of the International League (AAA baseball) Rochester Red Wings on WHECmarker (AM). His work there drew the attention of the Wings' parent club at the time, the St. Louis Cardinals, and earned him an invitation to join the Cardinals' broadcast team in St. Louis the following season.

St. Louis Cardinals career

Buck started broadcasting Cardinals games for KMOX radio in 1954, teaming with Harry Caray, Milo Hamilton (1954), and Joe Garagiola (from 1955). Buck was dropped from the Cardinals booth in 1959 to make room for Buddy Blattner; the following year, he called Saturday Game of the Week telecasts for ABC. Buck was re-hired by the Cardinals in 1961 after Blattner departed; Garagiola left the following year, leaving Caray and Buck as the team's broadcast voices through 1969.

After Caray was fired by the Cardinals following the 1969 season, Buck ascended to the team's lead play-by-play role. (Oddly enough, 1969 was also the year that Jack Buck divorced his first wife Alyce Larson - who he had married in 1948 and had six children with - and married his second wife, Carole Lintzenich, who gave birth to their son Joe Buck in the same year).

Buck teamed with ex-Yankees and Pirates announcer Jim Woods in 197071. In 1972, retired Cardinals third baseman Mike Shannon joined Buck in the broadcast booth, beginning a 28-year partnership.

On Cardinals broadcasts, Buck routinely punctuated St. Louis victories with the expression, "That's a winner!"

According to his autobiography, That's a Winner, Buck's children helped his career in the 1970s.

Buck has three daughters who worked in broadcasting including Julie Buck on KYKY 98.1 in St. Louis (she now works at KLOU-FM 103.3, also in St. Louis), Bonnie Buck, who currently works in television in Los Angeles, and Christine Buck, who started her career at KPLR-TVmarker in St. Louis. In addition, Buck’s late younger brother, Bob Buck was a sportscaster and sports director at KMOX/KMOVmarker-TV in St. Louis.

Buck was well respected in the St. Louis community, where he lived and regularly volunteered time to host charity events.

The book Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings (2004) includes short stories from former Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine. Buck is prominent in many of these stories.

Football

Jack Buck was also a renowned football broadcaster. In 1963 he began calling National Football League games for CBS television, following a three-year stint doing telecasts of the rival American Football League for ABC. Buck called Dallas Cowboys games for CBS throughout the 1960s, including the famous "Ice Bowl" championship game in 1967; as the network moved away from dedicated team announcers in the 1970s, he continued to call regional NFL action through 1974, as well as several NFC Championship Games and Super Bowl IV.

In 1975, Buck temporarily left his Cardinals baseball duties in order to host the NBC pregame show, GrandStand, alongside Bryant Gumbel. In the 1976 and 1977 seasons, he called NFL play-by-play for NBC. On August 16, 1976, Buck called the first-ever NFL game played outside of the United Statesmarker, a preseason exhibition held in Japanmarker between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers.

Buck served as the CBS Radio voice of Monday Night Football (teaming with Hank Stram) for nearly two decades (19781984 and again from 19871995). Ironically, in 1970 ABC's Roone Arledge had asked via telephone about Buck's interests in becoming the first television play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Football, but because of personal animosity surrounding his previous stint with the network, Buck wouldn't return their phone call. (The television play-by-play role would go to Keith Jackson instead.) In addition to MNF, Buck called numerous playoff games for CBS Radio, including 17 Super Bowls (the most of any announcer). Buck also returned to calling Sunday NFL games for CBS television from 1982 to 1987.

During the 1990 NFL season, Buck's onetime CBS broadcasting partner, Pat Summerall, was hospitalized after vomiting on a plane during a flight after a game, and was out for a considerable amount of time. While Verne Lundquist replaced Summerall on games with lead analyst John Madden, Buck (who was at the time the network's lead Major League Baseball announcer) was added as a regular NFL broadcaster to fill-in.

The Pro Football Hall of Famemarker presented Buck with its Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 1996.

Other sports

While much better known for his baseball and football commentary, Jack Buck was also the original voice of the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League. Buck was paired with Jay Randolph and Gus Kyle on the broadcasts and covered the 1968 Stanley Cup Final on St. Louis radio. He was succeeded after one season by another St. Louis broadcasting legend, Dan Kelly.

Buck also broadcast for the St. Louis Hawks and Rochester Royals of the National Basketball Association, and called professional boxing, professional wrestling, and bowling at various times in his career.

CBS baseball career

From 1983-1989, Buck teamed with the likes of Sparky Anderson, Bill White, and Johnny Bench for World Series radio broadcasts on CBS. Buck, along with CBS Radio colleagues Johnny Bench and John Rooney, was on hand at San Franciscomarker's Candlestick Parkmarker on October 17, 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquakemarker hit. After the 6.9 magnitude quake rocked the Bay Areamarker, Buck told the listening audience: He is most famous for his call in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series of Kirk Gibson's game-winning home run, and his disbelief at the feat by Gibson, who at the time had two injured legs. His call of the play is so famous that it's usually played over the television footage of the play, and often confused for the television call, which was actually done by Vin Scully on NBC.

Buck wasn't intended to be the main play-by-play announcer for CBS baseball telecasts when the network acquired the sport from NBC and ABC. Originally assigned to the network's #2 crew (and therefore, work with Jim Kaat), he was promoted at practically the last minute after Brent Musburger was fired on April Fools Day of 1990.

After two years of calling baseball telecasts (including the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week, All-Star Game, National League Championship Series, and World Series), Buck was dismissed by CBS. The official reasoning behind Buck's ouster was that he simply had poor chemistry with lead analyst Tim McCarver. Buck was soon replaced by Boston Red Sox announcer Sean McDonough. Buck later rued that "CBS never got that baseball play-by-play draws word-pictures. All they knew was that football stars analysts. So they said, 'Let McCarver run the show...In television, all they want you to do is shut up. I'm not very good at shutting up." Buck was criticized by some for his alleged habit of predicting plays on air.

Buck made controversial statements about singer Bobby Vinton prior to Game 4 of the 1990 National League Championship Series. After Vinton sang an off-key rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner", in his home town of Pittsburghmarker, Buck lightly referenced Vinton's Polish heritage. Buck soon got death threats from Pittsburgh Pirate fans, who even went as far as leaving a footprint on Buck's hotel pillow. The next day, CBS Sports executive producer Ted Shaker spotted Buck in the hotel lobby and told Buck that he was in trouble. The final baseball play that Jack Buck narrated for CBS television was Gene Larkin's game winning bloop single in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Buck called 11 World Series, 17 Super Bowls, and four Major League Baseball All-Star Games.

Final years

Over the course of the 1990s, Buck decided to reduce his schedule to calling only Cardinals home games (or 81 games a year unless there was a "special occurrence"). Health concerns obviously could have played a factor in this, as Buck suffered from such ailments as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, a pacemaker, cataracts, sciatica, and vertigo. Buck once joked, "I wish I'd get Alzheimer's, then I could forget I've got all the other stuff." In 1997, Buck published his aptly-titled autobiography That's a Winner! In 1998, the Cardinals dedicated a bust of Buck that showed him smiling with a hand cupping his left ear.

September 17, 2001

One of Jack Buck's final public appearances was on September 17, 2001 at Busch Memorial Stadiummarker in St. Louis. It was the first night that Major League Baseball resumed after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Although looking rather frail (Buck at the time was sick with lung cancer) and struggling to maintain his composure (Buck was obviously showing the signs of Parkinson's disease as well), Buck stirred emotions by reading a patriotic-themed poem during the pregame ceremonies. He concluded by silencing critics who thought baseball had come back too soon: "I don't know about you, but as for me, the question has already been answered: Should we be here? Yes!"

For America
Buck wrote a poem named For America that he read at the first Cardinals game after the 9/11 attacks to describe the emotions of the general public after September 11. The poem went:

Since this nation was founded under
God, more than 200 years ago,


We've been the bastion of
Freedom...


The light which keeps the free world
Aglow.


We do not covet the possessions of
Others, we are blessed with the
Bounty we share.


We have rushed to help other
Nations...anything...anytime...
Anywhere.


War is just not our nature...we
Won't start, but we will end the fight.


If we are involved we shall be
Resolved to protect what we know is
Right.


We've been challenged by a
Cowardly foe, who strikes and then
Hides from our view.


With one voice we say there's no
Choice today, there is only one
Thing to do.


Everyone is saying the same thing
And praying that we end these
Senseless moments we are living.


As our fathers did before, we shall
Win this unwanted war.


And our children will enjoy the
Future, we'll be giving.


Death

Jack Buck died on June 18, 2002 in St. Louis's Barnes-Jewish Hospital from a combination of illnesses. He had stayed in the hospital for all but the first two days of January 2002. He was in the hospital to undergo treatment for lung cancer, Parkinson's disease, and to correct an intestinal blockage. His death shook the St. Louis community: within two hours of his death fans were leaving flowers at the base of his bust outside Busch Stadiummarker even though it was the middle of the night. The flags at St. Louis City Hall and the St. Louis County Government Center were lowered to half-staff, the local television news anchors all wore black suits for the next several days, and a public visitation was held in the stadium before the next baseball game after his death, with free admission to the game for all the mourners who filed past his coffin.

Buck was interred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemeterymarker in south St. Louis County. His spot on the KMOX Cardinals broadcasts was subsequently filled by former Colorado Rockies announcer Wayne Hagin. Hagin moved over to television, and his spot was filled by one of Buck's protégés, former Chicago White Sox announcer John Rooney.

Buck's youngest son, Joe read the eulogy at his father's church funeral. Jack Buck had eight children in all; five daughters and three sons. Joe Buck is currently the lead play-by-play announcer for both Major League Baseball and the NFL on the Fox network. Joe Buck also does occasional local telecasts for the Cardinals as well as commercials for a local automobile dealership.

During postseason telecasts, Joe often pays homage to his father by signing off with "We'll see you tomorrow night!" When the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, Joe quoted his father again saying, "For the first time since 1982, St. Louis has a World Series winner!", referencing Jack's line when the Cards won in 1982, "And that's a winner! That's a winner! A World Series winner for the Cardinals!"

Notable calls

References

External links




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