“I miss Jack Buck”.
Still to this day, those words are the one’s I feel define my writing. An article I wrote for the now closed Baseball Digest site took that theme. It was in Spring Training and I realized the game just did not sound the same. That article, more than any other, has shown my heart and soul towards this game on every level.
Read my thoughts on Jack from last year here on i70 as well as my original work for Baseball Digest on Going 9 Baseball’s site. The original work, both the I Miss Jack Buck article and an interview with Christine Buck can be read by clicking the respective links.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the day heaven gained a legendary announcer and we all lost a golden voice. Last night, during my weekly Seamheads podcast, Gateway To Baseball Heaven, Daniel Shoptaw reminded me of the anniversary. I reminded everyone just what that anniversary was.
For many people around the world, they lost a lot of things when Jack Buck passed away. Most remember the war hero, the poet, the author and of course the announcer. Fans around the nation and the world lost a storyteller that had very few parallels within his peers.
For myself and many others, there was something more. We lost a friend.
I remember that day 10 years ago, when the news was announced that Jack had left us. I remember, for the first time in my life, I wept over a baseball figure.
I grew up with this game. I watched “my team” lose the 1985 and 1987 World Series. I suffered through horrible stretches of players and games. I watched as a new generation of legends took over the game. I watched as players that were involved in the tales that Jack himself would spin were no longer around, having departed this world and the game and I was seemingly unphased.
I teared up when Ozzie retired. It shook me to my roots when the Cardinals took the field days after the events of September 11, 2001. I was emotional when I said goodbye to a man known by many as The Mayor Of The Bleachers, the first real friend that I had developed because of this game. Never before, however, had I openly lost control of my emotions over someone that I had never personally spent any time with.
That was Jack. Through the years of radio listening, television watching and bonding with my father over this game that grown men play, Jack was always there. For countless months every summer, nights when I was supposed to be asleep, and days that were too hot to fathom, Jack Buck was my companion.
He was real. You never got the impression that Jack was not genuine. He wore his heart on his sleeve. He was professional and forthcoming yet a fan at the same time. He was the expert in the room and the guy sitting next to you at the bar at the same time.
Time heals all wounds. We find new friends and we move on when there is loss. The Cardinals will employ many different announcers in my lifetime alone. The game will evolve and change and somewhere along the lines a new legend will assume the role behind the microphone. I’m not sure it will ever change anything for me.
I still miss Jack Buck.