John Francis "Jack" Buck (August 21, 1924 – June 18, 2002) was an American 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 Fame 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 ("GRANNDD SLAAAMMMMAAHHH!"), Kirby Puckett's 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.").
He is the father of national sportscaster Joe Buck.
As a teenager, Jack worked as a deck hand on the iron ore boats of the Great Lakes. 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 (Remagen) bridge into Germany to stop enemy fire. Buck was ultimately awarded a Purple Heart after spending time in a Paris hospital.
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 WHEC (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.
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).
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-TV in St. Louis. In addition, Buck’s late younger brother, Bob Buck was a sportscaster and sports director at KMOX/KMOV-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.
In 1975, Buck temporarily left his Cardinals baseball duties in order to host the NFL on NBC pregame show, GrandStand with Bryant Gumbel. On August 16, 1976, Buck called the first-ever NFL game played outside of the United States. The game was played in Japan 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 (1978–1984 and again from 1987–1995). 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.) Buck also called numerous playoff games for CBS Radio, including 17 Super Bowls (the most of any announcer).
During the 1990 NFL season, Buck's onetime CBS broadcasting partner, Pat Summerall, was hospitalised 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 CBS during the time as the network's lead Major League Baseball announcer) was added as a regular NFL broadcaster to fill-in.
From 1983-1989, Buck teamed with the likes of Sparky Anderson, Bill White, and Johnny Bench for World Series radio broadcasts. Buck, along with CBS Radio colleagues Johnny Bench and John Rooney, was on hand at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on October 17, 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit. After the 6.9 magnitude quake rocked the Bay Area, Buck told the listening audience:
I must say about Johnny Bench, folks, if he moved that fast when he played, he would have never hit into a double play. I never saw anybody move that fast in my life.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 really done by Vin Scully over on NBC).
An interesting tidbit about Jack Buck's television work for CBS was the fact that he originally wasn't intended to be their main play-by-play announcer for baseball telecasts. Buck 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.'" Buck added by saying "In television, all they want you to do is shut up. I'm not very good at shutting up." Buck was also criticized by some for his supposed habit of predicting plays on air. One such example came during the conclusion of Game 4 of the 1991 World Series. Buck had called Atlanta Braves second baseman Mark Lemke out mere seconds before the umpire signaled that Lemke was actually safe (thus scoring the game winning run).
Jack Buck didn't help his cause when he 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 Pittsburgh, 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 simply 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 ("The Twins are going to win the World Series! The Twins have won it! It's a base hit! It's a 1-0 10th inning victory!").
I don't know about you, but as for me, the question has already been answered: Should we be here? Yes!
Buck wrote a poignant 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:
During postseason telecasts, Joe often pays homage to his late 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!" Quoting his father's line when the Cards won in 1982, "That's a winner, a World Series winner for the Cardinals!"
He takes off his cap. He mops his brow. He looks in and gets the sign. He starts the windup. Here's the pitch and its...A STRIKE CALLED! A NO-HITTER FOR GIBSON! Simmons roars to the mound, embraces Gibson who is engulfed by his teammates as the Cardinals win the game 11-0! - Calling the final out of Bob Gibson's 1971 no-hitter. Gibson struck out Willie Stargell to secure the only no-hitter of his legendary career.
Breaking ball, hit off the pitcher, TO THE THIRD BASEMAN!!! No play! Base Hit! Three thousand for Lou Brock! - Calling Brock's 3,000th career hit in 1979.
Montana lines up at the five. And on third-down-and-three he rolls right, looking to throw...looking to throw...and he throws into the endzone, touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown, San Francisco, by Dwight Clark! - Calling "The Catch" in the 1981 NFC Championship Game.
A swing and a miss! And that's a winner! That's a winner! A World Series winner for the Cardinals! - Calling the last out of the 1982 World Series. Bruce Sutter struck out Gorman Thomas.
Smith corks one into right, down the line! It may go...Go crazy, folks! Go crazy! It's a home run! And the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3-2, on a home run by The Wizard! Go crazy! - Calling Ozzie Smith's walkoff home run in Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series.
The Dodger right-hander is set and here's his pitch to Jack Clark. Swing and a long one into left field! Adios, goodbye and maybe that's a winner! A three-run homer for Clark, and the Cardinals lead by the score of 7 to 5 and they may go to the World Series on that one, folks! - Calling Jack Clark's 9th inning three-run home run in Game 6 to give the Cardinals the lead and the National League Pennant.
Here's the pitch to Mookie Wilson. Winning run at second. Ground ball to first, it is a run...an error! An error by Buckner! The winning run scores! The Mets win it 6 to 5 with three in the 10th! The ball went right through the legs of Buckner and the Mets with 2 men out and nobody on have scored three times to bring about a seventh game, which will be played here tomorrow night. Folks it was unbelievable. An error, right through the legs of Buckner. There were 2 on, nobody out, a single by Carter, a single by Mitchell, a single by Ray Knight, a wild pitch, an error by Buckner. 3 in the 9th for the Mets. They've won the game 6-5 and we shall play here... tomorrow night! Well, open up the history book folks, we've got an entry for you. - Calling the final moments of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
Off the stretch, Orosco...here's the pitch. Swing and a long one into left field! Way back in the corner...GRAND SLAMMMMMAAHHH! A grand slam home run for Herr! And that's a winner! Twelve to eight! - Calling Tom Herr's game-winning grand slam home run against the New York Mets in April 1987.
Here's the pitch. Swing and a fly ball, you want another winner here? Coleman going to it. YOU GOT IT! That's a winner, 6-0 Cardinals. - Calling the final out of the 1987 NLCS as the Cardinals advanced to the 1987 World Series.
Gibson...swings and a fly ball to deep right field. THIS is gonna be a home run! UNBELIEVABLE! A home run for Gibson! And the Dodgers have won the game, five to four; I don't believe what I just saw! I don't BELIEVE what I just saw! - Calling an injured Kirk Gibson's walkoff home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series off of Dennis Eckersley.
In to deep left center...for Mitchell...and we'll see you...tomorrow night! - Calling Kirby Puckett's walkoff home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series.
The Twins are gonna win the World Series! The Twins have won it! It's a base hit! It's a 1-0, ten inning victory! - Calling Gene Larkin's game-winning hit in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
Mike Morgan is the pitcher. Here's the pitch to McGwire...SWING..looky there! LOOKY THERE!!!! Looky there! Number sixty-one!!! McGwire's flight 61 headed for Planet Maris! History! Bedlam! What a moment! Pardon me while I stand up and applaud! - Calling Mark McGwire's single season record-tying 61st home run in 1998.