As the Cardinals continue to roll in the 2013 National League Championship Series, we need to look back to the end of another season.
Twelve years ago Monday, October 14th, 2001, the Cardinals took the field at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, Arizona. It was the 5th and deciding game of the National League Division Series against the Diamonbacks. Matt Morris faced Curt Schilling, and both pitched gems.
Each gave up solo home runs, and the game entered the bottom of the 9th inning tied at 1. With Steve Kline pitching in relief for the Cardinals, Tony Womack, who would eventually play for St. Louis, delivered a game-winning single to left field, scoring pinch runner Danny Bautista.
What’s more significant is the fact that it was Jack Buck’s final call. It was the last time you heard Buck on KMOX and the Cardinal Radio Network. Thank you to Ron Jacober of KMOX Radio for finding out that information.
It has been 12 years since Jack has been behind the microphone, but the Cardinals have gone and made history since then. However, it just doesn’t seem the same without hearing his voice.
He got to do one season calling games when Albert Pujols played. Can you imagine what some of his calls would have been like had he been here for the rest of the time that Albert was—the 2005 playoff homerun against Brad Lidge in Houston, three home runs on Easter Sunday 2006, including the game winner in the bottom of the 9th, and three homeruns in the 2011 World Series.
Albert aside, there have been other moments: Adam Wainwright’s strikeout of Carlos Beltran to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, followed by Wainwright striking out Brandon Inge to end the World Series. The drama of Game 6 in the 2011 World Series. The drama of the stretch run in the regular season for the Cardinals just to make the playoffs that year.
Can you imagine the calls Buck would have made, how the highlight reel would sound?
Jack has been gone 11 years now. But somehow, I always think of Jack Buck when they are playing in a playoff game. In fact, anytime I’m at Busch Stadium, I hear his voice doing the play-by-play of that game I’m watching.
As a kid in the 1980’s, we had it good! What could have been better than Whitey Ball narrated by Jack Buck?
“That’s a winneeerrrrrrrr. That’s a winner. A World Series winner for the Cardinals.”
“Smith corks one down the right field line…Go Crazy folks, Go Crazy!”
“Swing and a long one into left field! Adios, goodbye, and maybe that’s a winner! A three-run homer by Clark and the Cardinals lead by the score of 7 to 5 and they may go to the World Series on THAT one, folks!”
Of course, we shared Buck with the rest of the sports world, where he had numerous famous calls.
He did the radio play-by-play of one of the most famous games of any sport in North America. “Third and goal, quarterback sneak, touchdown, Green Bay!” was the call when the Packers won the Ice Bowl in 1967.
My favorite Jack Buck moment came in Game 1 of 1988 World Series, and the Cardinals weren’t even playing. It is the famous home run hit by Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers, “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!
In Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, “Into deep left center … for Mitchell… and we’ll see you … tomorrow night!” We were reminded of this when David Freese homered for the Cardinals 20 years later to force a Game 7, and Joe Buck used the same line.
Jack was more, much more, than just a sports play-by-play announcer. His Father’s Day poem, heard on KMOX still, brings tears to my eyes every year, even at the age of 40. It chokes me up perhaps more now that I have a son of my own. The theme of the poem centers on the bond created between a father and son through baseball.
On September 17th, 2001, less than a year before he died, baseball returned following a layoff due to the 9/11 tragedy. He read a poem he wrote entitled For America at Busch Stadium II that stirred those in attendance. It was written from the heart of a veteran.
Buck served in the United States Military during World War II. In fact, Buck received the Purple Heart after being wounded by shrapnel in the Battle of Remagen in Germany. He served his country from 1943 until 1946.
There are warm summer nights when I sit outside on my deck, wishing I could hear Jack’s voice one more time. Don’t get me wrong, Listening to Mike Shannon and John Rooney is a treat. But nothing can ever replace the banter cultivated by Buck and Shannon.
Below, are links to some of the more memorable calls made by Buck. The first link is to the Major League Baseball web site. It is basically a clearinghouse of stories written about Buck when he passed away.
Remembering Jack Buck Jack Buck was widely admired by his colleagues in the world of broadcasting and by the players whose feats he recounted for fans around the world. We’ve gathered the thoughts and reminiscences dozens of those players and broadcasters shared after his passing.
Gibson Home Run
Go Crazy Folks
9th inning of 1982 World Series
1991 World Series…We’ll see you tomorrow night?