By Mark Miller
For Joe Buck, this definitely is the most fun time of year.
With the National Football League season now in full swing and the Major League Baseball playoffs about to start, the long-time lead Fox television broadcaster for both sports is about to enjoy the best of both of his worlds.
“There’s a lot going on in my business and I think in anybody’s business if you love what you do, I think that’s when you get your best work,” the 46-year-old said before serving as the featured guest at Southern Methodist University’s recent athletic forum luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.
“When I leave football and go to baseball, I’m a better baseball announcer. When I come back to football, I’m better than when I left because it’s good to get a little bit of a break and get a fresh perspective. It’s a real advantage I think I have.”
Buck has enjoyed such a dual life for the better part of two decades. Son of legendary St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck, he filled in for his father in 1991 while still in school at the University of Indiana. Fox hired him in 1994 at age 25 to work NFL games, making him the youngest person to call NFL games. Just two years later, he became the youngest to call a World Series.
Since then, he has called four Super Bowls and 17 World Series. He worked for 18 years with Tim McCarver, his father’s former broadcast partner. His football partner for most of his career has been former Dallas Cowboy great Troy Aikman, with whom he has become close friends.
He served as the regular Cardinals’ announcer through 2007 and still lives in St. Louis with his wife and two teenage daughters, one who followed him to Indiana, the other in high school. Leaving the rigors of covering one baseball team for more than six months to the less grinding weekend network schedule has allowed him to spend quality time with his family.
“I would submit that I’ve had more time with my daughters than any of my friends who have 9 to 5 jobs,” he said. “I’m thankful for that since the most important role I play is dad on this earth, not broadcaster or speaker.”
Buck admits being the son of someone famous has had its perks.
“I got to visit every National League city by age 12,” he said. “I was able to work with a hall of famer, live with a hall of famer and get taken to school by a hall of famer. I was a lucky kid.”
Even though he worked with his father for many years, young Buck feels he learned more personally than professionally from him.
“It was more how to be a good person and how to treat people than how you should call this home run or describe that ground ball or touchdown,” he said. “That stuff you figure out. The other is way more important.
“Personally I got more from him. Professionally, I think things just sunk in. We never had class. It wasn’t like ‘I’m going to teach you how to broadcast tomorrow at 2 o’clock.’ I was in that booth watching him do his thing night after night, summer after summer and eventually it sinks in how you’re supposed to do it and do it kind of in the style he did it.”
Buck is putting his recollections about growing up with his father, who died in 2002, into a book in collaboration with Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg. He also has taped several episodes of a new show called Undeniable with Joe Buck to air this fall on Direct TV’s Audience Network including one with Cowboys’ owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
Yes, life truly is good for Joe Buck.