Years ago, when I was broadcasting pro baseball in the low minors, I recall hearing about what Joe Buck, then a 20-year-old college student, was doing on his summer vacation: radio play-by-play for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A team, the Louisville Redbirds.
(You weren’t the only one giggling with glee at Buck’s career TIMBERRRRR!)
At the time, I was in my fourth year of enduring semi-regular 16-hour bus rides from Hagerstown, Maryland to Albany, Georgia in the South Atlantic League. The deep south-based S.A.L is better known as the Sally League or as we called it, ‘Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here‘.
So you can imagine my delight when I heard about Buck’s “summer vacation”, not to mention upon his graduation, when he was handed a fulltime Cardinals radio play-by-play gig. (Passing over Jim Kelch, who had spent over a decade as voice of the Redbirds and was the Cards #1 fill-in.)
Fast forward a few years later with me now, as Buck has since passed on broadcasting even a limited schedule of Cardinals games. And most recently telling the world that, as the #1 national baseball announcer in the land, he finds the game boring and rarely watches it when he’s not working games.
In other words, Buck has spent his life half-heartedly clogging up plum broadcast gigs that were gifted him because of his late, great announcing father, Jack Buck.
Having been out of the play-by-play biz for about 10 years now, I’m at the point where I don’t care enough about Joe Buck to revel in his Hiroshima-inspired HBO talk show performance Monday night.
But I’m guessing you probably can’t say the same for one of Buck’s more recent broadcast team partners, NFL sideline reporter Pam Oliver.
While working a Giants-Rams game with Buck last September, Oliver said during the broadcast that the mood on the St. Louis bench was underwhelming.
What followed that throwaway cliche was a pointless, inexplicable attack by Buck on Oliver’s credibility that was one of the most unprofessional displays I’ve seen in the industry.
After Oliver’s remark, Buck quickly claimed that she had made the same comment during the 2007 season about the New York Giants. The same Giants who went on to win the Super Bowl.
When Oliver attempted to protest, saying, “that’s not right,” Buck shouted her down, saying, “it is right Pam!”
I’m not here to defend the football acumen of Oliver, but what’s that all about? For a guy who claims he doesn’t enjoy watching sports, why did Buck dredge up such vitriol over a throwaway, irrelevant comment?
Something more to the story?
Equally perplexing is how someone who is so universally disliked by the viewing public, not to mention his industry peers, continues to draw big gigs.
I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a suit at HBO. Because if I was, I would’ve greenlighted “Jack Buck Dead!” before “Joe Buck Live!”