I kind of wonder what took them so long, but this weekend at their annual meeting at the Lake of the Ozarks, the Missouri Broadcasters Association inducted Jack Buck into their Hall of Fame. That makes it eight Halls of Fame for the best broadcaster ever to grace our city. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 10 years since Jack died. That’s probably because so many of us remember him almost every day. No one had a bigger influence, a bigger presence in the St. Louis sports scene than John Francis Buck. He was so versatile, so witty. For man years, Jack MC’d most of the major sports dinners during the winter in St. Louis. Most people attended not for the program, but to hear Jack and his humor. He called 18 Super Bowls and 11 World Series on CBS. He was the voice of Monday Night Football for almost two decades.
Jack was a patriot. He loved this country with every cell in his body. Men and women in military uniforms were more special to him them men in baseball and football uniforms. He was a foot soldier in the Army in World War Two and was and suffered serious injuries to his arm and leg at the Bridge at Remagen in Germany. He was awarded a Purple Heart after recovering in a Paris hospital. Jack even joked about his army experience remarking “I was lucky because a French women hid me in her basement for a month–of course, she lived in Atlanta Georgia.” Late in his life he enjoyed writing poetry. After a visit to France and American Cemetery at Normandy where thousands of Americans who died in that great invasion are buried, Jack wrote a moving poem that we have aired many times on KMOX.
Jack was also a very charitable man. He helped raise million of dollars over the years for many St. Louis charities. Those involving children were extra special to him.
I was especially impressed that Jack would treat doormen, cab drivers and the cleaning people at KMOX like they were special. He tried to remember their names. We always had some young interns or college age kids working at KMOX and many times I would see him shake hands with them and they would find a $50 or $100 dollar bill in their hand. He knew they needed money.
My favorite personal story happened when I was a young pup in the business working on television at Channel Five with Jay Randolph (who was also inducted this weekend). I grew up a Cardinal fan listening the Jack and Harry Caray. One Sunday, Jay had a conflict doing golf for NBC and I was assigned to work the Cardinal telecast at Wrigley Field in Chicago. This was like a dream for me. I did the pre game show from the field and then sat down in the broadcast booth next to Jack. Nervous? Oh, yes. I didn’t say much over the first couple of innings. I was sitting next to the master. After the second inning, Jack turned and said, “you want to do some play-by-play don’t you kid?” I responded with a nervous “yes.” Jack said,”well do it” and got up and left the broadcast booth for a couple innings leaving me to call the game. What a thrill.
I’ll never forget Mr. Buck and I’m pleased that even though it took them a long time, the Missouri Broadcasters Association didn’t either.