Baseball Broadcasting

Jack Buck was always loved; Son Joe will likely return to Baseball this season; Called 23 World Series

Jack Buck was loved and son Joe Buck is coming back it appears

Unlike basketball, football or hockey announcers, Major League Baseball voices require strength, knowledge and smarts. Play-by-players develop an individual course and they follow it. The more the merrier. It’s how the broadcast booth was born. From Mel Allen and Red Barber nationally to Jack Buck and Harry Caray in St. Louis and of course many other sparkling announcers across America. 
The Pitch Clock tells a story of a day when baseball conformed its technological hat. Shorter times are needed. 
Many baseball announcers bring an entertainment value too. They are generally caring and they’re friendly folks. You’ll hear full anecdotes, chuckles and reminiscences. Think many memorable experiences too.
Jack Buck was a strong fighter and a World War II veteran. For that matter, he riskily fought in the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. When it came to tipping a waiter or speaking at many banquets, Jack was hailed by the fans. He  did both the World Series and the Super Bowl on TV and Radio.
Mike Shannon, a Cardinals’ voice for decades was trained by Jack Buck. He was heavily engaged with the Redbirds as a Cards announcer from 1972-2021. That’s 50 years. Early during his first spring in St. Petersburg, his rookie broadcast season, Jack said, “Please get me the umpires.” About ten minutes later, Shannon brings up all four up to the booth physically.
About 10 minutes later, there they were. The umpires working the game, after walking up the stairs to the booth huffing and puffing. Buck watched and cracked up. “All I wanted were their names, knucklehead.”
Jack had done just about everything, from radio or television and from bowling to soccer. He has the confidence and self-strength for his own protection The announcer decked him. Buck had a heart of gold.

Jack got first triple-A baseball job in Rochester when Ed Edwards, the man he succeeded, told a dirty story at a banquet and was fired on the spot by the team’s general manager. Bing Divine. Buck, the New England native, got the job. He was the announcer of the Rochester Red Wings baseball games. He also did Rochester Royals basketball. Recreating a road game from Montreal one afternoon, Jack relied on a French speaking Western Union operator in Canada who couldn’t communicate clearly.

So the husky-voiced play caller spanned five decades as a Cardinals announcer. His service was separated twice, once when he was replaced in the early 1960s by Buddy Blattner and
again when he left voluntarily for the failed NBC mid- 1970s studio program, Grandstand.

For years he played second fiddle to Harry Caray, getting to call just a couple of innings a game. Harry was such an emotional rooter that he would rage out of the ballpark if the Redbirds lost a close one.

With two outs in the last of the ninth and St. Louis down a run, Caray would bark, “Brock off third, the tying run ninety feet away, Flood at the plate, here’s the pitch, popped-up.” Harry was terribly dispirited. “Jack will be back with the recap after this,” he bristled, slamming his fist against the broadcast table and storming out of the booth. The station was in a commercial break, and Harry was gone before the ball was ever caught.

Through all his popular years, Buck worked year-round at KMOX radio. At night, when atmospheric conditions were just right, the St. Louis CBS affiliate can sometimes be heard from coast-to-coast. Bob Hyland, who passionately and lucratively ran KMOX for years, took a liking to Buck and hooked him up with the network’s coverage of baseball and football.

Scully and Buck dominated the World Series on radio from 1979 to 1997. They were the voices of October. They’re also quite different. Scully was flowery, and Buck meat and potatoes. Scully was Shakespeare, and Buck was Hemingway. Scully lived in Pacific Palisades and Buck lived in the Midwest.

Scully’s leisurely moment is on the golf course, and Buck was taking a skydive. Scully would be prim in the booth on a cruelly sweltering day, and Buck would broadcast with his feet in a bucket of ice. Scully would be neutral, and Buck would introduce Bob Dole at a rally before the 1996 presidential elections.

That’s a Winner is the title of Jack Buck’s autobiography and his signature stamp on a Cards win. It’s what he could have said when Scott McGregor shut out Mike Schmidt ( 1-for-20 in the affair) and the Phillies 5-0 to win game five and the 1983 Series for the Orioles. In 1984 Sparky Anderson made history, becoming the first manager to win titles in two leagues. He left Buck in the radio booth with Brent Musburger and celebrated a five-game Tigers championship over the Padres.

Somewhere in between the two booths, Buck might have ribbed Mets’ Bob Murphy, “You little S.O.B., you beat me out for the Red Sox job in ‘ 54. Most everyone loved Jack Buck.”

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David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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