KMOX, St. Louis–As we get started with a long home stand for the Redbirds this weekend I can’t help but reflect on a couple of the darkest days in the Cardinal organization’s history. It happened 10 years ago this week with the deaths of pitcher Darryl Kile and broadcaster Jack Buck.
Needless to say I was like so many others out there that absolutely looked up to Jack Buck. He was a man who was bigger than life. Not only was Mr. Buck one of the greatest at his craft as a play-by-play man, he was a tremendous entertainer, but most importantly a great human being. My high schools rival in football here in St. Louis was Country Day, now MICDS. One of the many great stories about Mr. Buck was when our two schools would play each other at my alma mater, Lutheran North.
My parents would collect the money at the gate for tickets for the game. My Mom would tell me how Jack would show up at the game because Joe attended MICDS and he would stand there at the gate for the longest time and talk to everyone. He would then hand over a sizable dollar bill to pay his entrance fee and when my mom would try to give him his change back Mr. Buck would always say, “no keep it, it goes to a great cause in helping these kids play sports.”
I also had the honor of working with Mr. Buck when I first got into this business at KMOX and wrote the morning sportscasts for him when he filled in for Bill Wilkerson one week. As I finished writing my final sportscast on Friday morning I saw a $100 bill fall out of Mr. Buck’s pocket onto the floor. I told Mr. Buck he had dropped that and he told me, “No young man, I didn’t. I appreciate all of your efforts this week and I want you to take your girlfriend out to dinner on me tonight.” Well, as you can imagine that’s still one of the most incredible moments in my life, even though my girlfriend never believed the story.
As I reflect back to the time during Mr. Buck’s passing, I think we all kind of knew the inevitable. In fact, I was at the Cards game the night he passed and it seemed like most of the fans in the stands didn’t pay much attention to the game that night against the Angels and just talked about Mr. Buck’s situation. I remember at one point in the game looking up at the broadcast booth, Jack’s second home, and I saw his son Joe doing the broadcast while his father was gravely ill. I nearly lost my father several years ago to a stroke and knowing the emotions that I went through at that time I can’t help but respect the heck out of the strength and courage Joe had that night to do the broadcast while his father was near passing.
Just days after Mr. Buck’s passing, shock waves went through the baseball world and the nation on the tragic death of Darryl Kile. I’ll never forget Joe Girardi’s emotional announcement before a National TV audience and a sold out Wrigley Field that the game was cancelled and to keep the Cardinals in their prayers. It was a moment where you were just left speechless. How would Darryl’s wife, kids, family, friends and teammates make it through this? But somehow, someway the Cardinals found the strength and courage that year to make it all the way to the NLCS.
As I look back at that season, the Cardinals may not have won a World title, but I do believe the bond between players, coaches, broadcasters, the organization and the fans became a lot closer because of the strength and courage of the men who left us 10 years ago.
Mr. Buck and Darryl,
May you both continue to Rest in Peace.
Scott Warmann is a host on the Sports Hub.