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 Nostalgia and Drama in Buck’s Game 6 Call

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PostSubject: Nostalgia and Drama in Buck’s Game 6 Call   Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:15 am

When Joe Buck punctuated the Cardinals’ game-ending home run in Game 6 of the World Series on Thursday night with the same line his father, Jack, used to call Kirby Puckett’s home run at the end of Game 6 of the 1991 World Series — “We will see you tomorrow night” — it seemed as if the moment had been scripted in broadcasting heaven.

But according to Buck and his Fox broadcast partner Tim McCarver, it was anything but scripted, even though they had spent a few minutes back in the third inning talking about one of Jack Buck’s famous calls. That had been prompted by a trivia question that Fox had for that night, asking how many times a World Series Game 6 had ended on a home run.

That led McCarver to say: “I remember one, working with your dad in ’91. Kirby Puckett. Jack’s famous call. ‘We’ll see you tomorrow night.’ Nothing else.”

Hours later, the game had worked its way to the crowning moment: David Freese sent a pitch over the center-field wall in the 11th, a dramatic moment ripe for a dramatic call. This one just had a ring of nostalgia to it.

“It just came out,” Buck said in a telephone interview Friday before Game 7. “It was in the back of my mind, but it’s always in the back of my mind. But it’s got to fit.

“I learned back in ’98, covering the Mark McGwire home run chase, that the more you try to plan out what you’re going to say in big moments, the more trouble you get into. You have to be in the moment. You just have to trust your instincts that you’re going to say the right thing.”

Once Buck said it, it struck many people as just the right thing. McCarver, who broadcast that 1991 game alongside Jack Buck, said it was a moment no one could have predicted.

“What rolled through my head was two decades of memories, my memories of working with Jack and my extended, very close relationship with Joe,” McCarver said.

“To see him enjoy that moment and get to remember his dad that way was what made it so wonderful.”

Jack Buck died in 2002 after a long career as the voice of the Cardinals. He also did national broadcasts for the playoffs and World Series. His voice lives on in the hearts of many baseball fans and plays continuously in his son’s mind.

“All of his calls do,” Buck said. “It’s like my dad’s greatest hits back there. A lot of times, I have to try not to say that stuff because it’s been done. This just seemed like a good time for an exception.”

After Buck’s line, both he and McCarver fell silent and let the Cardinals’ celebration take over the broadcast. It had been such a back-and-forth game, with the Rangers twice a strike away from a championship. And it was eerily similar to that game in Minnesota in 1991, when Puckett hit his game-ending home run in the 10th inning.

“You can’t plan something like that,” McCarver said. “There’s a lack of authenticity about it if you do. Joe said it so naturally. It’s why he’s one of the best broadcasters in the history of baseball. He grew up in the business and his dad was a great broadcaster, but Joe has his own way. Joe’s call was just so honest. I think everyone felt that.”

Buck said his mother was the happiest about how the night had gone, and she called him immediately afterward to share the moment with him.

“It’s ironic because I got in the business because of him and in the first years of my career, I did everything I could not to sound like my dad,” Buck said. “Now that I’ve done this as long as I have, and this is my 14th World Series with Tim, I’ve come back around to embrace all that stuff.

“My dad was my best friend and I’d do anything to be half as good as him. But now, I don’t think I’ll ever say that again. I don’t think I’ll say any of those lines. It was kind of a perfect moment for it.”


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