Remembering Jack Buck: A Cardinals winner


Recently, my co-editor on Redbird Rants, Jacob Misener, offered up his thoughts on the day we all found out Darryl Kile passed away.

The death of a beloved St. Louis Cardinals pitcher came only a few days after the loss of another legend.

It’s hard to believe that, later this year, it will have been 30 years since Jack Buck uttered one of the most famous calls of his career.

Remember where you were when Buck yelled “Smith corks one down the line, it may go?”

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You know the rest.

“Go crazy, folks!” was on my cell phone as the ringtone for at least two or three years. It symbolized my love for the Cardinals and how excited Buck could get when he called a wonderful game.

Three years later, on a national radio broadcast, Buck uttered his most famous non-Cardinals call when he broadcast the home run hit by Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

As the Los Angeles Dodgers stormed onto the field, Buck said “I don’t believe… what I just saw!”

Neither did I.

Because Buck’s games were often on KMOX-AM in St. Louis, a station with a large reach, many times I could pick up the signal from the game and have it with me. If I were the only one in the car, it would be a pleasant, soothing voice to get me through the ride back from wherever I was.

I will forever recall the Chicago Cubs‘ home opener in 1998. That was the year, in cold, drizzly conditions, that Harry Caray’s wife Dutchie led the crowd in singing Harry’s signature seventh-inning tune, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.

After spending several more hours in Chicago, I made my way back towards West Michigan. When I was in northwest Indiana I flicked on the car radio and heard the Cardinals, with Buck at the helm, on KMOX.

It was the final couple innings. It wasn’t a very memorable game, but Buck’s final call of the night was all you needed to know:

“Ground ball to short… over to first… and that’s a winner, we’ll have the totals in a moment.”

Pure and simple. That’s a winner.

And who could forget Buck, his body wracked with Parkinson’s, delivering a speech after September 11 that let us know it was okay to grieve. It was okay to remember the nation’s fallen.

The last line, “As our children will enjoy the future we’ll be giving”, guaranteed there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.

The last time I heard Jack was during the 2001 postseason. I had a feeling that would be the last time his voice would grace the radio airwaves.

If you’re too young to remember Jack, do me a favor. Go on YouTube. Find his clips. Listen to the voice of a professional.

He was a winner. And we were all a winner for listening to him.