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.
Today 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.”
Jack 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.
== 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