Joseph Francis Buck was born on April 25, 1969 to parents Jack Buck and Carol Lintzenich in St. Petersburgh, Florida. We could assume his upbringing and childhood were very exciting. Joe’s father, Jack was a Hall of Fame sportscaster, best known for his play-by-play work with Major League Baseball, a path his son would follow, and reach similar success.
I wonder how intense the pressure is to follow a man like Jack Buck into the same profession. I’m sure some can relate but not many. Jack Buck, a world class broadcaster carried a lengthy career summarized in classic calls like, “Go Crazy Folks, Go Crazy,” “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!!!” and many more. We could spend hours on this, but you get it. Jack was good.
I can’t properly summarize the career of Jack Buck and do it justice, but I do feel comfortable saying the shoes left behind were not easy to fill. Joe Buck recently turned 48 years old, still in his prime with many years left and has accomplished more than most his age. His body of work is beyond impressive. He’s called countless games, including Super Bowls, USGA, The World Series and more. Like his father, he’s had his own share of great calls, most memorable in my mind… “We’ll see you tomorrow night.” Eloquently explained in the simplest of words as David Freese rounded the bases after an improbable St. Louis Cardinals comeback in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. The same words his father spontaneously turned into legend years ago during the 1991 World Series.
For years, I’ve wondered why Joe Buck is such an easy target for hate. It’s not as if he hasn’t earned the opportunities he’s had. What did people want him to do? The dog days of working in radio for 15 years waiting for your shot at the big-time just don’t exist anymore. And if so, it’s rare. Much like minor league baseball if you find yourself there too long reside yourself to your remedial fate or do something else.
My analysis of a successful sportscaster is simple, proper schooling, charisma, knowledge and preparation. Connections help… Assuming he had connection in the bag with his father, and sure he didn’t finish school but the other intangibles are earned, learned and mastered. His dad probably helped mold him. He had the advantage of learning from a Hall of Famer up close. Joe acknowledged this during the 2002 World Series when he thanked his father, not to justify his existence to any of you, or for any other reason, but to pay homage to the mentor and lineage that put him in the position he is in today.
Back to these shoes… Imposing and very expecting… The average fellow would struggle to fill them. Did you want Joe to be Jack? He’s not. He’s Joe. He is a professional and does just that, remains professional. Partial and minimal bias is imperative if you have aspirations of stepping outside of Homerville. Some would even say you need to highlight your hometown’s opponent even more, so the very appearance of bias is not a debatable topic.
The hatred is endless, and the can’t-win thing is full bore. Joe was criticized because he admires Clayton Kershaw as if there is no one else outside of Los Angeles that does. He’s the best starting pitcher the game has seen since Roger Clemens, maybe longer, weird to like this guy right? I know. (Insert eye-roll emoji here).
Joe said calling the Cubs/Indians World Series was a “career highlight.” How is this a problem or a heavily discussed topic? He went on to say, “Nobody had ever done a televised World Series game from Wrigley Field and nobody’s called the Cubs a world champion since World War I.” Emphasis on the word nobody. If I climb the Empire State Building with one hand behind my back, that’s a career highlight. I’m pretty sure that’s never happened. Funnier is throughout the series, the hate came from Cleveland and Chicago fans alike. Lots of it. Again, can’t win.
The discontent for Joe Buck is considerably stronger around these parts. I’ve asked several people, why don’t you like him? The responses are usually hollow and silly. “He hates the Cardinals” Lol, yep the organization where his father cut his teeth, Joe did as well and clearly helped paved the way to mega-stardom he hates, because that makes sense? This isn’t like your buddy working at Taco Bell that hates his job. It’s just not sensible or logical to think he hates the team and city he still lives in, that catapulted him to this level. I’m sure his dream job wasn’t calling games for the Louisville Redbirds in the 90’s, but that’s the work put in to graduate to his current level. Work that continued after his father’s career was over. Without asking I imagine he is very grateful to St. Louis.
The only thing I can make from comments like “He hates the Cardinals” is that fans aren’t rational. I tote no real journalism experience, I just like to talk, blog and share my opinion. So like anything else I say, take it for what it’s worth but here’s what I know; this is an editorial. Play by Play sports casting is not. Surely his opinion will surface many times during a telecast and often will upset fans on either side, but the job is not to stroke off Cardinals fans just because he’s from St. Louis. The very ideal of that is ridiculous and would point to Joe not being qualified for the job. The entire notion is silly.
I remember combing his Twitter feed a few days after Chicago won the World Series. I understand Twitter is full of cyber gurus, closet tough guys and subject-matter experts but sheesh give the guy a break. Literally nothing anyone said made any sense. Zero. The hate is deep-rooted in disgruntled fanboys who hate the Cubs. Even bitter Cubs fans who listened to Joe overjoyed to be part of history, calling the last out, found a way to tear that down.
Bob Costas doesn’t take this kind of heat and carries a similar status. Bernie Miklasz is the most critical expert of the St. Louis Cardinals, rightfully so. He is certainly qualified to be, and forgive me Mathenyers but he is almost always spot-on with his assessment of the current team and those before, and he doesn’t get hit this hard. But rest assured if a post-season game is on in St. Louis, the Joe Buck lynch mob will be out in numbers. Heaven forbid it’s a postseason game the Cardinals are not involved in, you may as well throw your Facebook feed in the trash, unless you enjoy the Joe Buck gang rape.
So again, what do you want the guy to do? Be Jack Buck and not Joe Buck? Well that’s physically impossible. Would you rather he move and denounce the organization because it hurts your feelings when he recognizes greatness in non-Cardinal Players? Another requirement of the job. Or would it make more sense to recognize that he’s not Dan McGlaughlin. He’s not Bob Carpenter. He’s not Al Hrabosky, or Chris Duncan or Mike Shannon, or Brad Thompson or any local TV/Radio/Print personality you are familiar with. He is a national sportscaster, a celebrity and I think St. Louis should be grateful that he is one of our own.