Jack Buck started his broadcast career for the Cardinals in 1954. He spent two years away from the team in 1959-1960, but the Cardinals made the decision to bring him back in 1961, and the legend began. I wasn’t around then, but most of my earliest moments as a young Cards fan were brought to me by Buck. Over the years, he felt more and more like a friend. The sweet sounds of “That’s a winner” could lift you up on the darkest of days. I think most of Cardinal Nation felt the same way, and it was as tough a loss as possible when he passed on June 18th, 2002.
Buck made some calls that will live on forever. The most memorable to most start with Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS when he told us to “Go crazy folks! Go crazy” after Ozzie Smith hit a walk-off HR. Just a couple of days later when Jack Clark hit a go ahead 3-run HR in Game 6, Buck said “Adios! Goodbye! And maybe, that’s a winner!” I wonder what Buck thought of Tommy Lasorda letting Tom Niedenfuer pitch to Clark in that spot with first base open.
Jack’s son, Joe Buck paid tribute to his dad this in the 2011 postseason when he called the walk-off HR by David Freese in Game 6 of the WS with “We will see you tomorrow night.” Jack made the similar call 20 years earlier in 1991 when Kirby Puckett hit the walk-off HR in Game 6 of the World Series “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!” Possibly the most famous of calls on a national level was the one on Kirk Gibson’s walk-off HR in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. I’m not sure there’s a baseball fan that hasn’t heard the “I don’t believe what I just saw” call.
Later in the same week, the Cardinals lost Darryl Kile on June 22nd, 2002. Kile passed from a heart attack in his hotel room in Chicago. When I think of Kile, I think of the turnaround of the Cardinals that started with him and Jim Edmonds. Kile was 20-9 in his first year with the Cardinals, and was a bulldog on the mound. He put the dark days of pitching in Colorado behind him with the help of Dave Duncan, made the Cards relevant again, and quickly made us forget about the 90’s. Who knows if the Cards get back on the map as the cream of the crop in the N.L. without Kile helping in a big way getting it started?
Both Buck and Kile are missed but not forgotten. It would have been nice for both of them to be a part of the great run the Cards had from 2004-2006 and again in 2011, and you have to think they were smiling down on these great times.