Legendary sportscaster Jack Buck dies

June 19, 2002 at 2:50 AM
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ST. LOUIS, June 19 (UPI) -- Jack Buck, a legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster who had been announcing St. Louis Cardinals games for nearly 50 years, died Tuesday night. He was 77.

Buck intended to call every Cardinals home game on KMOX Radio this season, but did not make it back to the booth after being hospitalized on Jan. 3. He underwent surgery for a cancerous spot on his lung and an intestinal blockage. He also was suffering from Parkinson's disease, kidney failure and other health problems.

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 Massachusetts native 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.

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, Mark 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.

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