Jack Buck Biography

John Francis Buck was born August 21, 1924 in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He was the third of seven kids for Earle and Kathleen Buck. His father, Earle, was a railroad accountant, and in 1939 he moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio where he had gotten a job on the Erie Railroad. A year later, he died at 49 because of high blood pressure. As a teenager, Jack Buck worked on iron ore boats on the Great Lakes. Because he hailed from Massachusetts, Jack grew up as a Boston Red Sox fan.

During World War Two, Buck was drafted into the Army. In 1943, he became a corporal and instructor with K Company, 47th Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. On March 15, 1945 he was wounded in his left leg and forearm by shrapnel, while crossing one of the last bridges into Germany. He was later rewarded a Purple Heart for his bravery.

Upon his return to America, Buck attended Ohio State University, where he majored in radio speech. He paid for college by working at an all-night gas station during his free time. He also called college basketball games while at Ohio State.

In 1950, Buck began broadcasting Triple A games for the Cardinals affiliate. He started broadcasting Cardinal games for KMOX in 1954. He had two longtime partners for these broadcasts, Harry Caray and former Cardinal, Mike Shannon. However, Buck did not become the lead announcer for the team until Harry Caray was fired in 1969. This was the same year that he divorced his first wife, Alyce Larson whom he had married in 1948. The couple had had four children together. He then married his second wife, Carole Lintzenich. Carole gave birth to their son, Joe in 1969 as well.

Jack Buck also served as CBS radio’s voice of Monday Night Football from 1978 – 1995. Buck remained the voice of the Cardinals, but was fired from CBS after two years of calling baseball telecasts for the network. The official reasoning behind Buck’s termination was that he had poor chemistry with Tim McCarver, the network’s lead analyst. Buck was later quoted as saying, “CBS never got that baseball play-by-play draws word-pictures. All they knew was that football stars analysts. So they said ‘Let McCarver run the show.’ In television all they want you to do is shut up. I’m not very good at shutting up.” Buck never could come to terms with emphasis on analysts in televised sports. He always believed that a good play-by-play broadcast is what the people wanted.

Buck took a lot of criticism from national audiences, as well. Numerous critics pointed out his tendency of predicting plays on the air. This sometimes led to him making the wrong call, and confusing the listeners. He also started a controversy during the 1991 National League Championship Series in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bobby Vinton kicked off the evening with an off-key rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, and Buck made remarks referencing his Polish heritage. Buck received numerous death threats from Pittsburgh Pirates fans,

Jack Buck became famous for numerous phrases. In Game Five of the 1985 National League Championship Series, Ozzie Smith hit a walk off home run, with Buck yelling, “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!” During Game One of the 1988 World Series, Kurt Gibson hit a dramatic pinch hit home run. Buck shouted, “I don’t believe what I just saw!” Kirby Puckett had a game winning home run in Game Six of the 1991 World Series, and Buck became famous for saying, “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!” He also ended most of his Cardinal’s broadcasts with a punctuated, “That’s a winner!”

In all, Jack Buck called seventeen Super Bowls, eleven World Series, and four Major League Baseball All Star Games. During the 1990s, he began to cut back his schedule, and eventually only called Cardinals home games. In 1997, hr published his autobiography, That’s A Winner.

During his last years, Buck was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cataracts, vertigo, lung cancer, and he used a pacemaker. One of his final appearances was on September 17, 2001 at Busch Stadium. This was the first night that Major League Baseball resumed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Jack Buck read a patriotic themed poem that he had written during the pre-game ceremonies. He then addressed critics who were saying that baseball was coming back to soon, “I don’t know about you, but as for me, the question has already been answered: Should we be here? Yes!”

On June 18, 2002 at the age of 77, Jack Buck passed away. He was at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, suffering from a combination of illnesses. He was laid to rest at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. He was replaced on KMOX as the “voice of the Cardinals” by Wayne Hagin. Bucks’ youngest son, Joe, is currently following in his father’s footsteps. He is the lead play-by-play announce for Major League Baseball and the National Football League on FOX. He occasionally does local telecasts for his father’s team, the St. Louis Cardinals.

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