Joe Buck Returns to Bloomington after 18 Years

Joe Buck returned to Bloomington, Indiana for the first time since 1991, after not returning for his senior year of college to replace his dad, Jack Buck as the play-by-play voice of the St. Louis Cardinals for local television and KMOX radio.

The night began with Tim Franklin, director of the National Sports Journalism Center welcomed Buck to the stage. Then one of the best in the business, Bob Costas hosted a 10-minute video clip talking about Buck and their personal relationship. He remembered “Little Joe” always there following in Jack Buck’s footsteps. Costas indicated that Joe Buck was torn between Indiana University and his alma mater, Syracuse University. Costas then went on to claim that the reason Buck chose IU over SU was due to Keith Smart and Indiana defeating Syracuse in the 1987 NCAA National Championship. Buck didn’t necessarily decline it either. He said that when he visited the campus, he fell in love and knew Indiana was the school for him. Buck said, “of all the decisions I’ve made in my life, one of the best decisions was coming to Indiana University.”

Growing up Buck always wanted to be like his dad. He mentioned multiple times throughout the night how important his dad was in his life. When asked who he admired or tried to emulate, you guessed it—Jack Buck. He believed that his father worked at least 5 times harder than he did. Joe Buck, however did learn a lot from watching his father on the job. He realized how much he valued family time. He said that he use to sit in a nearby booth and record the play-by-play of games; it was then he realized that’s what he loved. Then on the car rides home, his father would analyze the tape and provide pointers for future games.

Joe Buck lived a life that most kids only dreamt of. He was in the locker rooms, traveled on the team bus and team plane, and went to team meals. He was around his father, and the team very often and really enjoyed the team atmosphere and wished to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Joe Buck is a very personable man who came off very humorous. He always turned things around on him in the form of a joke. Buck sarcastically mentioned that he “went to every class, never slept in, or skipped.” He also said that he earned a D in the only journalism class he took. He lived in McNutt and gave a shout out to those in the crowd that lived in McNutt or were from St. Louis.

Indiana was great for him because he was able to step out of the shadow of his father’s just a little bit. Coming from a small prep school of 60 guys, Buck said everyone always watched his every move. However at Indiana, he said he felt more like a social security number than a name…which was great for him.

In 1991, at the age of 20, Joe Buck accepted the St. Louis Cardinals play-by-play job. It was huge commitment but something he believed was worth missing his senior year. Things obviously were very challenging in his first years, most notably of replacing a legend, his father-Jack Buck. Jack Buck had been broadcasting Cardinals games since 1960. Another humorous thing Joe Buck noted was that because he was only 20 in his debut season, he could not read the dozens of beer advertisements. It wasn’t until his 21st birthday, on April 25th, when he could begin reading the advertisements for beer on the radio. The team was owned by Amhauser Busch, so you can only image all the beer ads.

Joe Buck mentioned that he never read or “Googled” his name for that matter, to avoid reading both good and bad criticism. In his mind, “I can’t buy into the positive, so I can’t buy into the negative.” He knows when he has a great broadcast or an off night. Thus the last thing he wants to do is hear a critic that hasn’t broadcast one minute of a game critique him on the way he calls a game.

At the age of 40, Joe Buck still has a long career ahead of him. However unlike his father or Vince Scully, he did not want to sacrifice family time to be on the air more. The past few years, he has done significantly less games, taking weekends off to spend with his wife and two girls.

Buck also said that he doesn’t want viewers to get tired of him which he thought was possible when he would host the NFL pre-game show, do a broadcast, host the post-game show then do a baseball game the next day. He has now ventured onto new shows as well, the host of Joe Buck Live on HBO.

Joe Buck has been fortunate to grow up in the life of sports and broadcasting. His idol—his dad, was with him every minute of the way able to guide him and show him the ropes. Certainly his name helped to provide him the opportunity, but he took full advantage becoming one of the top 5 broadcasters today.

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