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In Sports from United Press International

June 19, 2002 at 3:39 PM   |   Comments

Legendary sportscaster Jack Buck dies at 77

ST. LOUIS, June 19 (UPI) -- The family of late Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck and the St. Louis Cardinals announced Wednesday that a public viewing and memorial service for Buck will take place Thursday at Busch Stadium.

The legendary announcer of the Cardinals for nearly 50 years died Tuesday. He was 77.

The public viewing will begin at 8 a.m. Eastern time followed by a memorial service scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.

As a result, the start time for Thursday's scheduled game against the Anaheim Angels has been pushed back to approximately 4:10 p.m. Eastern time.

The Cardinals will wear black armbands with the initials "J.F.B.", standing for Jack Francis Buck, on the right sleeve of their uniforms for the remainder of the 2002 season.

In addition, the Cardinals have set up a memorial site on the west side of Busch Stadium, at the Jack Buck statue, that will be lit around the clock and will remain in place until a date yet to be determined. The team unveiled a bronze sculpture of him behind a microphone outside the stadium in 1998.

The Buck family is also planning a private memorial service to be held at Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church on Friday, followed by a private burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

One of his final public appearances came last September prior to the Cardinals' first home game following the terrorist attacks.

In a speech convincing baseball fans to resume their passion, Buck was visibly shaking and not able to sustain the steady, firm voice that he had made part of the game.

The native of Holyoke, Mass., who majored in radio speech at Ohio State, joined the Cardinals' broadcast team in 1954 and was inducted to the broadcasters' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987 as the Ford C. Frick Award winner.

Buck, who was inducted into seven Halls of Fame and received numerous awards, said his induction into Cooperstown was the greatest award he ever received.

"The biggest kick I get is to communicate with those who are exiled from the game -- in hospitals, homes, prisons -- those who have seldom seen a game, who can't travel to a game, those who are blind," Buck said in his induction speech. "And after all of these years, I realize my energy comes from the people at the other end.

Buck's signature call -- "That's a winner!" -- after the final out of each Cardinals victory will be remembered fondly by countless Cardinals fans. He had several unforgettable calls for the Cardinals, including Lou Brock's 3,000th hit and record-breaking 938th steal, Bob Gibson's no-hitter and Mark McGwire's 61st home run.

The team unveiled a bronze sculpture of him behind a microphone outside Busch Stadium in 1998, and Buck received a lifetime achievement Emmy Award in 2000.

His son, Joe, followed the same path as his father, joining the Cardinals before becoming the national voice of baseball for the All-Star Game and World Series. He worked alongside his father with the Cardinals in some capacity for the last 10 years.

The elder Buck has had a cavalcade of calls, from his trademark "That's a winner!" to perhaps his most lasting imprint, McGwire's 61st homer in September 1998 that tied the single-season home run record held by Roger Maris.

"Lookiethere! Lookiethere! Lookiethere!" exclaimed Buck.

Another of his famous calls came in the 1985 National League Championship Series. When light-hitting Ozzie Smith won Game Five with a home run, Buck shouted, "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!"

Three years later, Buck described Kirk Gibson's improbable pinch homer that won Game One of the World Series by saying, "I don't believe what I just saw."

Buck's broadcasting skills took him into other sports. He handled the first telecast of the American Football League and also was the long-time radio play-by-play man for Monday Night Football. In 1967, he called the famous "Ice Bowl" NFL championship game between Dallas and Green Bay for CBS-TV.

Buck also was known for his terse wit. Bob Costas often tells the story of when he first met Buck at KMOX. When Buck found out Costas was just 22 years old, he cracked, "Kid, I've got ties older than you."

Buck also had a somewhat embarrassing moment at the end of Game Four of the 1991 World Series, where he called a play at the plate an out that actually was the winning run scoring safely.

Two games later, however, he atoned when he followed Kirby Puckett's game-winning homer that forced a seventh game with, "We'll see you all tomorrow night."

Perhaps Buck's most famous pairing was with Harry Caray from 1954-69. Ironically, Caray had wanted the Cardinals to pair him with Chick Hearn instead of Buck. Hearn went on to become the play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Caray was fired in 1969 and former Cardinal Mike Shannon joined Buck three years later. They worked together in some capacity for 29 seasons.

When Harry and I were doing the games together, we were as good as a team as there ever was," Buck said in his autobiography "Jack Buck: That's a Winner." "His style and mine were so different that it made for a balanced broadcast. The way we approached the job, with the interest and love both of us had for the game, made our work kind of special."

Buck was part of the Cardinals broadcast team for every season from 1954-2001, with the exceptions of 1960 and '76, when he did a TV show for NBC, "Grandstand," working with a then-unknown co-host named Bryant Gumbel.

He also was the radio voice of Monday Night Football for CBS from 1978-1996, working with former NFL coach Hank Stram. The pair did 16 Super Bowl broadcasts and Buck's total of 17 Super Bowls is the most of any announcer. He received the Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

He had worked at KMOX Radio since 1960, and was the original host of "At Your Service," a program credited as the beginning of talk radio. One of his first guests was former First Lady Eleanor D. Roosevelt.

Among his civic accomplishments was being campaign chairman for the St. Louis chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for more than 30 years. He helped raise more than $30 million for that cause.

"Huge loss for baseball," said Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace, who grew up outside St. Louis. "I got to know him very well. A great man and a great announcer. We'll miss him."

"(Jack Buck) was baseball for a lot of people who grew up in the Midwest," said Arizona Manager Bob Brenly. "That was the only voice you knew for baseball, KMOX out of St. Louis. I considered Jack a friend, I'm close to Joe. Baseball lost a great man."

"He's the Harry Caray of St. Louis," said San Francisco Giants outfielder Shawon Dunston, who played for the Cardinals and rival Chicago Cubs. "He always called me Mr. Dunston and I always called him Mr. Buck. Jack was an excellent broadcaster and a gentleman. I put him and Harry Caray in the same boat. Jack gave so much to baseball. He was an outstanding broadcaster. He's going to be missed."

Buck is survived by his first wife, Alyce, and their six children -- Beverley, Jack Jr., Christine, Bonnie, Betsy and Danny -- and by his second wife, Carole, and their two children, Joe and Julie.


Former Olympian Willie Davenport dead at 59

CHICAGO, June 19 (UPI) -- Willie Davenport, a member of the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame and a five-time Olympian, died of a heart attack Monday after collapsing at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. He was 59.

Davenport was changing planes when he collapsed and was pronounced dead at Resurrection Medical Center.

Davenport won the Olympic gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles in 1968, winning in 13.3 seconds at Mexico City. He also won a bronze medal in the 1976 Games.

He was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1990. Davenport was a national champion five times in 1966, '67, and 1969-71.

In 1980, Davenport was on the U.S. four-man bobsled team that finished 12th at the Winter Olympics.


Gamecocks, Tigers meet in Omaha

OMAHA, Neb., June 19 (UPI) -- The Palmetto state of South Carolina takes center stage at the College World Series Wednesday night, with Clemson (54-15) playing the University of South Carolina (55-17), with the state assured of having a representative in the championship game on Saturday.

Clemson can advance to the title contest for the first time in school history with a victory on Wednesday, but if the Gamecocks win, they would force a rematch Friday to decide the title game berth. South Carolina last reached the title game in 1977.

"If you live in South Carolina, you know how big this is," said Gamecocks designated hitter Trey Dyson. "It's crazy in South Carolina. I don't care if it's equestrian racing or whatever. This is huge."

The Tigers defeated South Carolina in three of four meetings during the season.

Clemson sends righthander Steve Reba (13-3, 4.26 ERA) to the mound while the Gamecocks counter with southpaw Gary Bell (10-3, 5.13).

South Carolina stayed alive with a 9-5 victory over Georgia Tech on Tuesday, eliminating the Yellow Jackets. Freshman Aaron Rawl pitched a complete game for the Gamecocks, allowing 14 hits, 12 of them singles.

Meanwhile, Texas (55-15) will play Stanford (47-17) on Thursday. If Texas wins, it will advance to the title game, but if Stanford wins, the schools will play again on Friday night for a berth in the championship game.


WNBA's Shock hires Laimbeer as coach

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 19 (UPI) -- The WNBA's Detroit Shock, off to the worst start in league history at 0-10, Wednesday fired head coach Greg Williams and replaced him with former Detroit Pistons "Bad Boy" Bill Laimbeer.

The 45-year-old Laimbeer was named a special consultant with the Shock at the start of the season after spending the 2001-02 campaign as a television analyst for the Pistons. Laimbeer played 13 seasons with the Pistons and helped them win back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and '90.

"Bill has been close to the team since the beginning of training camp, holds great basketball knowledge, and expertise and we feel he is the right person to turn the franchise around," said Shock President Tom Wilson. "We consider this a fresh start for the team."

Laimbeer is the Pistons all-time leader with 9,430 rebounds, and was known for his outside shot as well as his physical play that was typical of the Pistons teams in the late 1980s and early '90s.

"Anyone who has followed Bill Laimbeer's basketball career realizes the passion that he has for the game," said Joe Dumars, Laimbeer's former teammate and Pistons President of Basketball Operations. "Bill's experience is a great addition for the Shock.

Williams served as an assistant coach for Detroit's first three seasons in the league before getting the dual role of coach and Director of Player Personnel prior to the 2001 season, when the Shock finished in a tie for last place in the Eastern Conference with a 10-21 record.

Before coming to Detroit, Williams coached Colorado State from 1990-97. He also coached collegiately at Houston, SMU, and Rice.

Williams also coached professionally in the Women's American Basketball Association and the Women's Professional Basketball League.

Detroit's most recent loss was on Tuesday, 75-67, to the Washington Mystics.


Jets sign No. 1 draft pick

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., June 19 (UPI) -- The New York Jets Wednesday became the second team to sign their first-round pick, inking defensive end Bryan Thomas from Alabama-Birmingham to a five-year contract.

Thomas, the 22nd overall pick in the April draft, will receive $6.8 million with "escalator" clauses that can raise the deal to as much as $9 million, according to his agent, Alan Herman.

Last year's 22nd overall selection, New York Giants cornerback Will Allen, signed a five-year deal worth $6.2 million.

Quarterback David Carr, the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans, was the first first-round pick to sign back in April.

The 6-4, 266-pound Thomas will add outside speed to a defense that managed only 33 sacks last season, and probably will be used initially as a pass-rushing specialist.

"He has natural pass rush ability, which is something that, of all the ends in the draft, our coaches felt he was the most natural of the group," said Jets General Manager Terry Bradway.

"We feel he'll be able to come in and do some good things for us this year."

Thomas was the third defensive end selected in the draft, following Julius Peppers, who went second overall to Carolina, and Dwight Freeney, who was the 11th pick overall by Indianapolis.

"I'm looking forward to playing in New York and having a great career," Thomas said.

The 6-4, 266-pounder ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine last February and set a school record with 35 career sacks, including 14 last season. He also recorded 148 tackles, 56 stops for losses, two fumble recoveries, eight forced fumbles, 12 passes defensed and 46 quarterback pressures.


Navratilova loses at Eastbourne

EASTBOURNE, England, June 19 (UPI) -- Martina Navratilova had one day to celebrate her triumphant return to tennis before running into 19-year-old Daniela Hantuchova.

After winning the first four games of the match, Navratilova appeared to have Hantuchova intimidated, but the third-seeded Slovakian recovered and earned a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory in the second round of the $585,000 Britannic Asset Management Championships.

Playing in her first singles match in nearly eight years, the 45-year-old Navratilova beat Tatiana Panova of Russia, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, on Tuesday and started strong Wednesday, breaking

Hantuchova's serve twice in the first four games. But Hantuchova fought back against her legendary opponent, winning four straight games in the second set and breaking Navratilova's serve twice in the third set as well.

Navratilova, winner of 167 singles and 166 doubles titles, asked for a late singles wild card into this grasscourt event in which she is an 11-time champion after losing a bet with her trainer, Giselle Tirado.

However, many of the players were not pleased with Navratilova's return, especially top-seeded Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia, who had her match against Daja Bedanova relegated to a smaller court on Wednesday.

"You would think that the No. 1 seed would play on Centre Court, but there's some ridiculous match out there instead," said Dokic, referring to Navratilova's match against Hantuchova. "I thought I'd be playing there, but they changed it."

Her complaint came after she was beaten by Bedanova of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.

"I'm not going to take it personally," Navratilova said when told of Dokic's outburst. "I understand there were a bunch of players who were happy I was playing and others who were not so happy. But I remember playing matches on court four and five at Wimbledon when I was ranked No. 1 and defending champion."

Navratilova's last singles match was a loss to Gabriela Sabatini in the first round of the WTA Championships in 1994. She came out of retirement in 2000 to play doubles and last month won the doubles title with Natasha Zvereva at the Madrid Open.

Hantuchova is the highest seed to advance to the quarterfinals after Dokic and No. 2 Sandrine Testud of France were upset on Wednesday. Anne Kremer of Luxembourg ousted Testud, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Meanwhile, Bedanova completed a 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (9-7) victory over Elena Likhovtseva before eliminating Dokic.

Hantuchova will meet Amy Frazier of the U.S. in the quarterfinals. Frazier advanced when sixth-seeded Iroda Tulyaganova retired during the first set of their match because of injury. Frazier was leading, 6-5.

No. 4 Silvia Farina Elia of Italy beat countrywoman Francesca Schiavone, 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, and fifth-seeded Meghann Shaughnessy also reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Rita Grande of Italy.

In other matches, Chanda Rubin beat Magui Serna of Spain, 6-2, 6-2, and Anastasia Myskina of Russia beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3).

First prize is $93,000.


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