Sunday Q&A: Joe Buck, on life as a dad, and as the son of a famous dad, and how it all links together at the U.S. Open

Joe Buck, center, is flanked by daughters xxxx and Trudy while in the 18th tower at the U.S. Open on Saturday. (Photo by Dan Bell/Fox Sports)

Joe Buck, center, is flanked by daughters Natalie and Trudy while in the 18th tower at the U.S. Open on Saturday. (Photo by Dan Bell/Fox Sports)

When Joe Buck towers over the Chambers Bay Golf Course in Washington to finish up Fox’s coverage of the U.S. Open this weekend, his two daughters – 19-year-old Natalie and 16-year-old Trudy – will be somewhere nearby.

“They’ll probably standing in a corner of the tower and rolling their eyes and asking, ‘Why did we come here?’” Buck said. “Probably texting and Instagramming and Facebooking non-stop with their heads down.”

But he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not far away will also be Buck’s wife, Michelle Beisner, an ESPN NFL reporter and host whom he married just more than a year ago.

Also very close will be his late father, Baseball Hall of Famer Jack Buck, who died 13 years ago this week.

jack-buck-joe-buck-001067864Although Joe Buck says he had more of a best-friend than father-son relationship with Jack Buck, and every day felt as if it was like Father’s Day, he might have a moment to pause and remember the times they used to get on the golf course together and made each other laugh.

Just before the 46-year-old Joe Buck began this weekend’s broadcast, he talked through the dynamics of Father’s Day 2015, as well as its past and future:

Q: Based on what you took away from your relationship with your own dad for the 30-some years you had with him, how do you maximize your quality time with your own two daughters while functioning in this business?
A:
I think I do what most parents do – when I’m not working, or if I don’t have any responsibilities that I have to cover, I’m with them. The thing is when they’re older, their priorities isn’t always being with their dad. I’m not talking about two kids that I need to tuck into bed at night. In fact if I did that now, it’d just be kind of creepy. I’m to the point where they know they’ve got me, I’m wrapped around their fingers, I’m there for anything and everything. The hard thing has always been that I’ve traveled and missed a lot of weekends, but that’s not the sad song. The truth of it is that it’s been great. Sometimes it feels like forever since I’ve seen them, and that can only be a week. Sometimes, I can drag them out (to an event) with me, and they’ll miss some school along the way, and some things with their friends, but they’ve gotten to see the country at least, if not the world, and be there pretty much with me every step of the way. Continue reading

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Weekly media notes version 06.18.15: With Joe Buck’s luck, the U.S. Open will give him flashbacks to the days he and dad on the golf course

 Jack Buck, the longtime voice of the Cardinals and postseason broadcaster, with his son Joe in their fifth year as a broadcasting team in 1995. Jack Buck died in 2002. (Leon Algee/Associated Press)

Jack Buck, the longtime voice of the Cardinals and postseason broadcaster, with his son Joe in their fifth year as a broadcasting team in 1995. Jack Buck died in 2002 at age 77. Joe, now 46, calls the 115th U.S. Open for Fox, which ends on Father’s Day. (Leon Algee/Associated Press)

What will end up as the Sunday Father’s Day feature column:

It’s was 13 years ago today — June 18, 2002 — when Jack Buck passed away at age 77.
In the New York Times obituary, it was noted that “Buck was among a shrinking fraternity of baseball announcers, including Vin Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ernie Harwell of the Detroit Tigers and Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy of the Mets, who have been identified with their teams for decades.”
Since that obit, Harwell, (2010), Kiner (2014) and Murphy (2004) have also died.
On that day, Joe Buck called the St. Louis Cardinals’ home game against the Angels, then got over to the hospital afterward in time to say his final goodbye to his dad.
AR-150419587.jpg&maxW=960Today is the first of four straight days that Joe Buck says hello to a new challenge: Hosting Fox’s coverage of the 115th U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay in Washington with Greg Norman.
Joe will have enough on his mind, on the air from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. between FS1 and Fox Channel 11, to let it wander too far away from what’s in front of him to remember this date.
Is that Cole Hammer about to tee off or Cole Hamels? (“I’m going to do that at least four times today,” Buck said during today’s early broadcast).
When it comes to getting his head around his father’s passing — even on this anniversary — Joe Buck says that’s not necessarily that difficult any more.
“It’s funny, that’s hard for me to believe in some respect, but in others, it’s almost like he’s been gone forever,” he said late Wednesday as he left the Chambers Bay course following Fox’s last day of rehearsals and headed back to his hotel. “A lot has happened over the last 13 years in my life. A lot has been good — some things I certainly didn’t expect. The first few years he passed away, I found myself reaching for the phone at the end of a broadcast wanting to bounce questions off him or get his temperature on something I had just done. That’s not even in my mind any more.
“I have friends and family who mark those dates when somebody died and they’re aware of all that. I just don’t think like that. I don’t know. I’m so aware of him pretty much every day of my life, I have someone bring his name up or tell me a story maybe five, six, seven times a week — still — that he’s in some ways still with me.
“He died never seeing the Boston Red Sox were World Champions. It’s been that long ago. I just don’t get that wistful or emotional about it. I’ve had my emotion on it. Maybe because when he died I went into MC mode and was the master of ceremonies at his wake, which is just crazy to think about at Busch Stadium. I gave the eulogy at his funeral. I had to grieve in public. I don’t know if that turned off that emotion for me. Maybe I’ll have to spend an hour with Dr. Phil and figure that out.”
buckbeisnerJack Buck will be with Joe Buck in spirit, especially during Sunday’s Father’s Day conclusion of the event (unless there’s a Monday playoff).
But Joe Buck’s two daughters from his first marriage — 16-year-old Trudy and 19-year-old Natalie — will physically be near him this weekend, as will his wife, Michelle Beisner, a former NFL Network anchor who has been working lately at ESPN and hosted “NFL Live” recently She will be a member of the “Sunday NFL Countdown Crew.” Joe and Michelle were married in April, 2014.
We’ll have more on Joe Buck’s life following his legendary dad, and what it’s like going forward as a dad for our Sunday piece.

What we have here and now to mention:

== What is Joe Buck’s favorite curse word?
Damned if we knew, until SI.com’s Richard Deitsch decided to ask him right out of the box in this recent podcast. Because those are the things you can do on a podcast, even if it’s Sports Illustrated and not on HBO or Showtime?
Such a fk-in potty mouth when you get Buck rolling, apparently.
Buck also admits to putting together a new book about himself and his dad, and he’s in development with DirecTV to do an athlete-interview series.

www.golfweek.com

www.golfdigest.com

== Buck also talks about, in this Golf Digest story, why he can’t curse on the air.
“I’m playing with [NFL quarterback] Carson Palmer one year in the Tahoe celebrity tournament. I can’t do anything right. Four-letter words are pouring out of me like I have Tourette’s. When it’s over, Carson and his brother, Jordan, say, ‘How do you do a broadcast without letting an F-bomb leak out once in a while?’ As I told them, when we go on the air, I kind of throw a switch in my brain where there’s no profanity. Throwing the switch has worked—so far.” Continue reading

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Play It Forward: June 15-21 — A Chambers Bay day for Dad, with Phil seeking his first fill of U.S. Open glory

Yes, that's a train going by the 16th hole at Chambers Bay golf course, which comes into play if someone really goes off the tracks near Pugent Sound in Washington during the 115th U.S. Open.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Yes, that’s a freight train going by the 16th hole at Chambers Bay golf course, which comes into play if someone really goes off the tracks near Pugent Sound in Washington during the 115th U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

GOLF: 115th U.S. OPEN
Details/TV: At Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash., Thursday-Sunday, Fox Sports 1, Channel 11:

There are some, like non-U.S. Open winner Phil Mickelson, who say they are pumped up by playing this Northwest gem off Puget Sound near Tacoma, a links-style track designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., that looks camera-friendly and down-right nasty. The later part is why others aren’t so complimentary.
Deal with it, says Greg Norman, the World Golf Hall of Famer whose best U.S. Open finishes were as a runner-up in 1984 at Winged Foot and 1995 at Shinnecock.
Orig_3781_large5 “The reaction is nothing different than any other major championship,” said Norman, part of Fox’s new broadcast team for this major. “When you go into it as a player, you either like the set-up or you don’t. The attitude that Phil Mickelson has is the right attitude to take. You have to go in with no white noise going through your head saying, ‘I don’t like this course because I don’t know how to play it.’ That white noise is going to be detraction to you, and you won’t perform well. So I know Phil has done his homework extremely well around there.” There is probably not enough time for everyone to get their reps in before the first round begins at 8 a.m. Thursday. Especially for those who have had to scramble to make it in by playing qualifiers. “Can they do 100 percent of their homework?” Norman asked. “No, they cannot because they don’t know the way the course is going to be set up by the USGA executive committee, which is part of the great theater that we’re going to have up there. Every day is going to be a different day. The USGA is getting exactly what they wanted, weather-wise, by choosing Chambers Bay. Phil Mickelson has a really good chance of hoisting a U.S. Open trophy because Chambers Bay will suit him.”
The irony is that Mickelson’s design company was one of the five finalists interviewed to create the course back in 2004, before Jones’ company won it. Construction began in January 2006, and less than eight months after the course opened in 2007, the USGA announced that it would have the 2010 U.S. Amateur as well as this 2015 U.S. Open played there. Since Chambers Bay becomes the youngest course to be awarded the Open, perhaps youth will be served if someone like Rickey Fowler or Jordan Spieth rise to the top of the leaderboard. Rory McIlroy comes in as the 5/1 favorite on Bovada.lv, with Spieth at 7/1, Fowler at 18/1, Michelson at 20/1 and Tiger Woods, who was 14 over in his last event at the Memorial, at 33/1.
Seriously, what could better suit the golf gods on Father’s Day other than to see Mickelson surrounded by his daughters on the 18th green?
The first two rounds Thursday and Friday are on FS1 (6 a.m.-to-2 p.m.) and Channel 11 (2-to-5 p.m.), the third round Saturday is on Channel 11 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and the final round is Sunday on Channel 11 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
Also: Fox prepares for its first U.S. Open golf coverage.

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An update on TheUndefeated.com: If Whitlock demoted himself for the good of the project, that could not have been easy

Photo by Andy Holzman/Daily News Staff Photographer

Jason Whitlock, from his ESPN office in LA Live, on May 27. (Photo by Andy Holzman/Daily News Staff Photographer)

An ESPN statement released today about the future of TheUndefeated.com, a project we wrote about in the May 31 editions:

As we continue to move forward in the process of creating The Undefeated – a new ESPN site focusing on race and sports – we have collectively decided to make some structural adjustments that will maximize the skill sets and strengths of our team, leading to the best possible output for the site and for all of ESPN.
To that end, Jason Whitlock will now be entirely focused on what he does best: creating distinctive and compelling content, which will live across various ESPN platforms. Jason’s thought-provoking perspective has always been a hallmark of his work and this will allow him to completely devote his time and energy to that. As a result, he will make significant contributions to multiple ESPN entities and programs. Since returning to ESPN, Jason has been instrumental in assembling the foundation of a strong editorial team, formulating the vision for the project and collaborating with our digital product team to develop the blueprint for the site.
Leon Carter – an experienced leader in journalism who officially joined the site in January after leading staffs at the New York Daily News and ESPNNewYork.com – will assume all day-to-day management of the site’s editorial processes and personnel on an interim basis.

Our immediate read on all this without having Whitlock’s response:
Those who assume this means Whitlock has already crashed landed as editor-in-chief likely don’t know how difficult a process it is to move from writer to manager of any kind of start-up. Acknowledging that now instead of later is more of a survival instinct for himself and the site.
We could sense in talking to him that he was ready for this challenge, but that doesn’t mean one is also equipped to handle it without some intense management training classes and buying into the day-to-day work that involves hiring, editing, team meetings, etc.
Some may be better as an offensive coordinator than a head coach. And Whitlock does not need to be “the face” of a site that deals with race and culture and sports for it to be successful.
“Hire slowly and fire quickly,” Whitlock told us about what’s he had to quickly learn as a manger.
If this is a painful “firing” of himself as the chief overlord, which could not have been easy, it might just be the right team-related move for everyone involved, and he can focus on writing, more his true passion.
Neither Whitlock nor others employed by the site have returned texts or emails for more insight, so until then, it’s difficult to speculate much further.

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Weekly media notes version 06.12.15 — On Fox’s U.S. Open plans near the now-Shark-invested Puget Sound

The lone tree on the Chambers Bay golf course is shown at sunset in University Place, Wash. The course will host the 2015 U.S. Open Championship next weekend, with Fox Sports covering it for the first time. (Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The lone tree on the Chambers Bay golf course is shown at sunset in University Place, Wash. The course will host the 2015 U.S. Open Championship next weekend, with Fox Sports covering it for the first time. (Photo/Ted S. Warren)

What we’ll get around to writing about for Sunday:

There are many, many, many, many golf traditionalists who find themselves concerned about how Fox Sports — yes, that Fox Sports — will go nontraditional in covering the 115th U.S. Open from Chambers Bay in Washington on Father’s Day weekend.
Loosen the grip on your shaft, boys. Don’t over think this.
What pungent sounds might be emanating from nearby Puget Sound? It will be Shark invested for sure, with Greg Norman on the network’s first major golf broadcast, taking cues from Joe Buck.
We’ll get more into all that, how the networks plans to present the event as well as a course that not many know about, and give it prime-time treatment (in the East, of course).
But first …

What’s best suited to be sent off into cyberspace at this moment and from this platform:

Al Epstein receives a gift from Pepperdine athletic director Steve Potts at halftime of Epstein’s 900th consecutive broadcast during a game last February. (Photo from the Malibu Times)

Al Epstein receives a gift from Pepperdine athletic director Steve Potts at halftime of Epstein’s 900th consecutive broadcast during a game last February. (Photo from the Malibu Times)

== Al Epstein, who just finished his 30th season as the voice of the Pepperdine Waves, was named to school’s Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2015 this week — long overdue.
Epstein, who has a streak of calling 908 consecutive men’s basketball teams, began his career at Pepperdine as a men’s basketball color man during the 1985-86 season. Since then, he’s seen changes from local radio to Internet to conference-driven digital TV platforms, and he continues to often be a simply the single voice calling anything from basketball to volleyball to soccer for the school — up to 75 events a year.
“It’s been a smooth transition over the years even as TV comes into a production with more and more people and cameras,” said Epstein, a West L.A. resident who went to Beverly Hills High and Cal State L.A. and, looking back on the process now, should have been on UCLA’s short list of candidates to replace the recently retired Chris Roberts as the voice of the Bruins.
Pepperdine_Waves2Epstein remains the longest-tenured play-by-play in the West Coast Conference — Pat Olsen at the University of San Francisco (going into his 25th year) and Bill Johnson at the University of Portland (23 years) are next in line.
In 2003, Epstein received the West Coast Conference’s Sam Goldman Award, honoring a member of the media and he remains committed to play-by-play training for students learning the art of the broadcast, offering a co-authored textbook (with Lou Riggs) on the subject at his website.
What keeps Epstein busy in the school’s offseason? Polo.
You’ll find him at the Will Rodgers State Park on the weekends from early May to October calling the man-on-horse sport over the public-address system for matches that can draw as many as 1,000 spectators.
“When they first asked me to do this and wondered what I knew about polo, I told them that I had a Ralph Lauren shirt in my closet, but that’s about it,” said Epstein. “Now I’ve been doing it 21 years — Saturdays at 2 p.m., Sundays at 10 a.m., keeping stats and even working the scoreboard with the old wooden numbers just like Wrigley Field. It really takes you back in time.”
The Pepperdine Hall ceremony is set for Oct. 18 at Firestone Fieldhouse. The World Polo Hall of Fame induction is pending.

Jim Lampley for The Fight Game For HBO photo by Monte Isom

Jim Lampley for The Fight Game For HBO photo by Monte Isom

== Going into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) Class of 2015 induction ceremony on Sunday is the most brilliant Jim Lampley, holding down the “observer category” for his 27 years of working for HBO, capped most recently by his call of the Floyd Mayweather triumph over Manny Pacquaio.
In a column posted by the LA News Group boxing columnist Robert Morales, Lampley says he has “extremely mixed feelings because I’m a reporter and fame is not the goal. I would almost rather it were a Hall of Truth or a Hall of Diligence or something like that, you know what I’m saying? Because for me it was always about, ‘Do you do the work? Do you do the work in the right way? And do you properly honor those people who really count?’”
Lampley calls the “Boxing After Dark” card on Saturday at 10 p.m. (live ET/tape delayed PT) at Madison Square Garden before going to Syracuse for Sunday’s ceremony in Canastota, N.Y.
Also slated for induction is ESPN.com boxing columnist Nigel Collins. The former editor-in-chief of The Ring Magazine has a story about him by Brian Campbell of ESPN.com.

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