Few people in the history of play-by-play broadcasting have managed to combine an impishness and childlike fascination with sports and the professionalism and understated manner of describing the action as did Jack Buck. He was, indeed, an institution ... especially in St. Louis, where he was a daily broadcast fixture since 1954. Go to the Web site of the station where he worked all those years, KMOX, and you'll see a station devastated by the loss. So moved by his passing, editors violated one of the strongest rules of journalism, noting that he "passed away," not "died," as would normally be the case. His death came after weeks of battling the effects of lung surgery, lapsing in and out of a coma. But Jack Buck was more than just a sports announcer, long-time voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, host of "Monday Night Football" on CBS Radio, describer of a hundred thousand events, he was the complete broadcaster. His pioneering talk show "At Your Service," first heard in the early 1960s, was among the first of its kind, paving the way for a thousand future shows of that ilk across the nation. By the way, his first guest on the show was Eleanor Roosevelt. He was also a poet, often reciting his works during lulls in baseball games. When baseball resumed after a self-imposed hiatus in the wake of Sept. 11, he rallied the crowd at Busch Stadium, speaking from the field, with a new patriotic ode to America. Having grown up in the Midwest and having worked in local radio at stations that carried every St. Louis Cardinal baseball game, I remember a time when Jack Buck was not the chief announcer, but "second banana" to the late Harry Caray. The chemistry between Harry and Jack was amazing. Now both are gone. Not that he would have wanted it that way, but Jack Buck went out with a bang. Mother Nature hit the Midwest with a 5.0 earthquake ... a rare event. Incidentally, when Buck applied for a sportscasting job at KMOX in 1954 he beat out another broadcast wannabe, Chick Hearn, longtime announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers. For those of us who admired and loved his work, it's easy to hear Jack Buck saying: "Thanks for your time, this time, 'til next time ... so long!" Jack Buck was 77.
TRIBUTES FLOW FOR JOCKEY CHRIS MCCARRON
Few American jockeys have had the kind of career Chris McCarron has had during his nearly 30 years in the saddle. Now, with the announcement of his retirement from the sport of thoroughbred racing, tributes are flowing in from around the world. McCarron has won over 7,130 races during a career that has spanned 28 years. According to the Daily Racing Form, McCarron, who is now 47, has earned more money for himself and others than any other jockey in American history. And, if you need another mind-boggling figure to put his career into perspective, he's ridden more than 34,200 different mounts, earning more than a quarter of a billion dollars. A member of horse racing's Hall of Fame since 1989, he rode steeds to victory in all three Triple Crown events, including two wins at Churchill Downs. McCarron burst onto the national racing scene in 1974, winning a record-breaking 546 races that year. That record stood for more than a decade. McCarron tells media that although he's leaving active participation in the sport of horse racing, he will remain active in a national foundation to help disabled riders.
COUNTRY'S PAT WHITE DIES
You have to admit it, Pat White was quite a lady. The wife of country's Buck White and mother of Cheryl White and Shannon White Skaggs, Pat White was always somehow out there entertaining. Now, according to Country Music Times, she has died of a massive heart attack. At one time she was part of quartet, comprised of husband Buck, another couple and herself. She and Buck had moved to Nashville in the early 1970s to see how far they could expand their careers. Two years later Pat dropped out of performing, letting her husband rise up the country music ladder as a solo act, then as the head of The Whites, a trio that included their two daughters. That act went on to appear on the Grand Ole Opry and figure prominently on the soundtrack album for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Pat White was only 68.
SON'S PARTIES MAY HAVE INFLUENCED VENTURA
It now appears that Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura wasn't just burned out on the frustrating job of being chief executive of his state. According to an increasing number of reports, the embarrassing way that his son used the taxpayer-funded governor's mansion for parties may have been the straw that broke the camel's back. In retrospect, a story we had some months ago Ventura's shutting down of the mansion because of budget problems makes even more sense. Now the New York Post is reporting that it became a regular thing for Tyrell Ventura to hold "drunken parties" at the mansion when his parents were away. There are reports from former workers at the home that when they arrived for work, they often saw the "results" of the previous night's party: Teens passed out on the lawn, other sleeping on couches, "messes" to clean up. Many times they had to hustle the kids out in order to prepare for state events later in the day. A spokesman for Ventura says those claims are simply those of "disgruntled former employees," angered that they lost their jobs during the time the building was shut down. Meanwhile, it would appear that the love affair that Ventura had with Minnesota voters several years ago is headed for a divorce.
NEAL MCCOY HAPPY TO BE BACK
At last year's incarnation of the well-attended Fan Fair in Nashville, singer Neal McCoy wasn't even invited. He literally fell through the cracks. The reason was that at the time he was between record labels and no one remembered to invite him. Now he's back, and it would appear that he's trying to make up for lost time. McCoy wowed the audience at a special performance during this week's show, appearing with Trace Adkins, Tracy Lawrence and Jo Dee Messina. According to country.com, McCoy showed those in attendance that he has really come of age and is able to captivate an audience in a larger venue that he's used to. He had the crowd on its feet and clapping along with a rousing rendition of "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy." He then mesmerized the audience with an inspirational number called "What If," from the new "Inside Traxx" CD -- the one put out by NASCAR. He closed by humbly telling those listening that he hadn't had a radio hit in "four or five years." But it would appear that soon may be corrected.
MCCARTNEY AND BRIDE STILL HONEYMOONING
It wasn't that many days ago that Sir Paul McCartney took long-time friend Heather Mills as his bride in secluded ceremonies at an Irish castle. Now, still on his honeymoon, McCartney has turned 60. Is that possible? The mop-topped kid from Liverpool who invaded America in the '60s, rocked the "Ed Sullivan Show" and sold a zillion records ... 60? The British Broadcast Corp.'s on-line service says that McCartney must really have something to celebrate this week, a major milestone birthday and his new marriage. Meanwhile, the question now remains: How long will McCartney continue to tour and create new music? He told interviewers for the news provider recently that retirement is inevitable, but not necessarily soon. Let's hope not.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 358
In light of the death of sportscaster Jack Buck, here is today's question: "Who has been your favorite, all-time sports announcer or play-by-play person (living or dead)?" Put SPORTS in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 353 (RECORD)
Last week we wondered how many of you have large CD or record collections? I guess I should have included collections of videotapes. I have so many movies on VHS tape that they weigh a ton. When I move (which is as seldom as I can) I pay big bucks just to transport them. Sadly, most of which I've never re-watched. Here are some of the replies to our RECORD question: RB says she has an extensive collection of CDs and tapes; her stepson wanted all her old vinyl recordings. Her collection is eclectic, including everything from easy listening to light rock to gospel to classical. RB, you should start a radio station. Richard, who describes himself as a "music nut" -- and may have responded for the first time to our survey? -- says that he started making recordings from the radio when he was in his early teens and how has about 100 cassettes. He also has a big collection of meditation music, 500 classical songs. He notes that he often records only the best parts of long classical selections, the "meat" of the music, as he puts it. Our friend purplepassion has an enormous collection, with all media involved, even 78s and 8-tracks. Margret is among those who added that they had comedy records in their collection. Stacey once owned over 400 cassettes; now she has over 200 CDs. Stacey, when can we all come visit and listen to your collection? TOMORROW: More on your hobbies. GBA.