Because 1996, sportscaster Joe Buck has been announcing Super Bowls, golf tournaments, bass fishing, motorcycle jumps and, of course, baseball. In fact, he did the play-by-play for seventh game of the Planet Series this year among the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs — a game that drew the largest audience in a generation.
But Joe Buck wasn’t the 1st sportscaster in his family: His father, Hall of Fame announcer Jack Buck, was the longtime voice of the St. Louis Cardinals. He worked into his 70s announcing Cardinals games and Monday Evening Football, all while struggling with Parkinson’s illness and diabetes.
Joe Buck’s new book is called Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Factors I am Not Permitted to Say on Television. He tells NPR’s Scott Simon that he and his dad have been ideal close friends. “It wasn’t as much father-son,” he says, “we had been buddies and I miss the hell out of him.”
On what his dad, Jack Buck, was like
He was the strongest, toughest guy I knew. He was a Depression-era kid he was in World War II he was wounded in Germany he came back to the States he only went to college due to the fact there was the G.I. Bill. Dirt poor, self-produced and was a genuine very good man.
So when he was sick and he had diabetes and he had Parkinson’s and he had a pacemaker and ultimately had lung cancer and then an infection, which took his life, he didn’t let anything slow him down. And if he was walking in or out of the ballpark, he’d stand there and sign autographs. And when you have serious symptoms of Parkinson’s, it’s not simple to do anything with your hands let alone sign a baseball. But he would do it simply because he felt like he owed that to anyone who wanted it.
So, you know, his line was, “Let them be concerned about me shaking,” and “I am not worried about it.” And it was a great way to see somebody attack life and not let what ever ailments he had stop him from carrying out what he loved to do. And you know, of all the gifts that he gave me, that is No. 1: to plow ahead, maintain on moving. Whether it was my vocal problem in 2011, going through divorce as he did — you got to choose your self up and preserve going forward. And I saw him do that. He didn’t inform me it. I watched it.
On what it was like to turn out to be a sportscaster in his father’s shadow
Appear, the rewards far outweigh anything on the damaging side, I am wise enough to know. … I am lucky that I was born to these parents. I’m lucky that my dad wanted to be around me, that he took me to all these National League cities by the time I was 12.
But I think when I was a kid in St. Louis, which is a actually modest community, I was aware that eyes have been on us and I was conscious at an early age that if I screwed up I was going to be the concentrate if I was in a group of who-did-what and who-was-wrong and my dad would have to spend some sort of public value for it. And then when I started, you know, I am the most significant beneficiary of nepotism that I know. I was broadcasting Cardinal baseball in the significant leagues at the age of 21, and that only occurred because my final name was Buck. At the time, I fought that. …
… I will forever be recognized to some individuals as Jack Buck’s son. And thank God he and I were very best friends or that would drive me nuts. Rather, I think about it a higher compliment.
But there is also a tiny bit much more of a sharp knife out there, as far as critics are concerned, that you greater be as excellent as the old man, or in some instances greater, to be regarded a accomplishment. And I know I do a decent adequate job to maintain my job, but I will forever be identified to some people as Jack Buck’s son. And thank God he and I had been best close friends or that would drive me nuts. Alternatively, I take into account it a higher compliment.
On how fans react to him rooting for each teams as a sportscaster
You know, in baseball far more than football — surely more than golf — when you do the national play-by-play it is a no-win circumstance. And I say that because in baseball … all season long, 162 games, you get your neighborhood guys. And the fans know: These two guys on the air think the way I feel they root the way I root they’re happy when my team wins they’re sad when my team loses. And when we show up, I have to be pleased for each sides. And if I’m happy for both sides, fans in every city feel, “Properly, that implies he likes that group and not mine.” It is why my Twitter bio or deal with or whatever it really is called says, “I really like each group except yours.” And so it really is just my tongue-in-cheek way of saying I can’t win.
On losing his voice after obtaining hair plug surgery
The deal is I had it carried out six occasions exactly where they utilised a local anesthetic. And the surgeon — as I am awake and he’s essentially scalping me — would listen to NPR even though I sat there for six hours and he was carrying out this procedure. … One day this guy comes to me, he goes, “You know, you can do this with a general anesthetic.” It is like, “What?” So I did it with a basic anesthetic. There was an issue during the procedure and I woke up with the laryngeal nerve not firing my left vocal cord and I could not speak right for nearly a full year.
On his voice sounding a lot more like his father’s as he gets older
I hear my dad more in me now than I ever have. And I don’t know if that is because I’m receiving a little older, if it is due to the fact I went by way of the vocal concerns I went via, but there are instances where I hear highlights that I am a element of and I feel, Man, that sounds a lot like my dad. I never don’t forget considering that in the mid-’90s. I consider I had a small bit far more pubescent voice back then and now that I’ve been via life and I’ve taken on as significantly secondhand smoke as I have … I am obtaining there as I get older. So when individuals say that, it’s the greatest compliment I could be given.