I had this nagging thought in my head that there was something about the day that I needed to remember.
You ever have that feeling?
I just couldn't grasp it, like it was in the ether of the middle of my head and wouldn't go away.
Finally, it struck me a little while ago. It should have come much earlier.
Tuesday being the 11th anniversary of the passing of Jack Buck came to me as I thought how much our world misses Jack Buck.
My evening is filled with voices; okay, my head is filled with lots of voices, but I'm not talking about those voices. As a sports producer I am constantly hearing broadcast voices, some good and some not as good. And none like Mr. Buck.
The thing about Jack Buck was that he always knew the right thing to say, even if it was nothing.
While Vin Scully may be more of a word poet, it was Mr. Buck whose poem after the 9/11 attacks still reverberates across the country.
While the great announcers have a signature call, with Mr. Buck you have your choice: If you don't like "Go crazy, folks, go crazy!", then maybe it's "I don't believe what I just saw!", and if not that, then how about, "We will see you tomorrow night!"?
And I haven't even mentioned how he sent Cardinal baseball fans to sleep on so many nights: "That's a winner!"
I guess I'm showing off my rapid descent into seniority (or is that senility?) when I take umbrage at ESPN's Stuart Scott saying, "___ is as cool as the other side of the pillow" like he witticized it, when Mr. Buck was using that expression even before Stu wanted to be a sportscaster.
While it was Mr. Buck who described each Cardinal team's passage through the postseason from the 80's through 2001, he was, just as importantly, the one we listened to when the Cardinals weren't so good, as they were in my teen years, which were lean years in those summers in St. Louis. Jim Otten, Bill Greif, or George Frazier may have been taking a beating on the mound, and Ray Busse, Bee Bee Richard or Roger Freed may have been traipsing back to the dugout after making an out, but we still had Mr. Buck to commiserate with. A story he told during the lull of a game like, "I know a woman who sleeps with cats." (pause) "Mrs. Katz. Ball two", may not seem very funny now in the re-telling, but it was an oasis in a desert of mediocre baseball. Believe me.
Three radio knuckleheads decided yesterday that a riff on the air about a guy with ALS was funny; Mr. Buck always stood for manners and politeness, and did it with humor and without being preachy. I heard him tell the story of a young boy who came home from school and the boy's mother asked him if he had a good day. "Yep," the boy replied. "Did you learn anything?", the mother asked. "Yep," came the reply. "We learned to say "yes, ma'am" and "no, ma'am", and "yes, sir" and "no, sir". "Oh, that's nice", his mom said, "did you learn who to say it to?"
"Yep," the boy said.
He was a guy who got a Purple Heart in World War II. He experienced the Ice Bowl and the San Francisco earthquake. He was the first voice of the St. Louis Blues. He endured many physical hardships in his later years, but thankfully he always retained that golden wit. In his last summer on the air, I remember him getting to sing, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at Wrigley Field. He really hammed it up, wearing a Cubs cap and urging the fans to join him in song. Then, as he got to the crucial part of the song - you know, "For it's root, root, root..." - at which time he played the punch line with Tony Award-like timing: "...for the Cardinals!" In this circus we call life, he was most definitely a ringmaster.
I don't know that I ever heard anyone - ANYONE - ever say anything negative about Jack Buck, except that he left us long before we were ready for him to go.
For those of you who never got to hear him call a game or tell a story, you really missed out on something.
Until next time...