Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday's Musing on Sports - Tip Your Cap to Pop

This past motzei shabbos, I turned on my computer and saw that the St Louis Cardinals had won the World Series on Friday night. From all reports, it seems that the final game was anticlimactic as the true drama played out in Thursday night's game six.

Although I was aware of the final score of Thursday night's game and the multiple times that the Cardinals crawled back from the brink of elimination, there was a story that I only first became aware of Saturday night. At the end of Thursday night's game, just after 12:30 Friday morning on the east coast, St. Louis Cardinals Third Baseman David Freese hit a walk off home run. In so doing, the Cardinals earned the right to host a game 7 and the baseball season continued for one more day. However, the call of the home run by Joe Buck made the event ever more special.

There are some announcers who when I hear them speak, even about mundane topics, I am immediately reminded of their signature sports. For many years, Pat Summerall, John Madden (on TV) and Howard David (on the radio) meant football to me. Similarly, Marv Albert and John Davidson (on TV) and Mike "Doc" Emeric (on radio) made me think hockey.

But no sport has announcers like baseball - legends like Tim McCarver, Vin Scully and Mel Allen narrarating This Week in Baseball, were the voices of my childhood, be it TV on a Sunday afternoon or listening under the covers on a school night.

While many sportscasters tried to bridge from one sport to another, quite a few failed miserably and sounded completely out of their element. But there were a precious few who could be at home in many sports such as Al Michaels and the late Jack Buck, who both rank among my all time favorites.

In the late 90s, I became aware that Joe Buck (son of Jack) had begun to call baseball games. While his voice at times can be monotone like, his descriptions of the games, much like his late father are pure magic. I can remember a beer commercial that aired a number of years where Joe Buck is sitting in a bar, talking sports and people come up to him to tell him their memories of sport. The commercial has a sports game audio on in the background and you can hear the late Jack Buck's call of the game. If anyone can find a link to the commercial available online, please email me or post it as a comment.

Which brings me to the end of Thursday night's game. As the game ended on Freese's extra inning home run, Joe Buck intoned the words "we will see you, tomorrow night." This was a tribute to his father's call of the end of the Minnesota Twins - Atlanta Braves game twenty years and one day earlier where he called Kevin Mitchell's home run and announced "and we'll see you, tomorrow night." [For a great video comparing the two calls and mixing father and son, click here - ]

Many people are lucky enough to go into a profession where their parent or parents have earned a reputation of greatness. Some succeed in the field because of the head start that they received from their parents, while others fail because they cannot live up to the parental legacy. Whether or not Joe Buck will ever be Jack Buck is still in doubt, but his tribute was touching and in the words of Mrs KB - ma'asei avos siman l'banim.

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