Buck on Sportscasting
The following are excerpts from ASA President Lou Schwartz' interview with
Fox Sports and St. Louis Cardinals announcer Joe Buck that appeared in the
May 1999 issue of the Insiders Sportsletter.
Lou Schwartz: "We
have many young men and women writing to the ASA asking us how to get on
the air. Tell me a little something about your background and how you started."
Joe Buck: "I would recommend to any young person getting into sportscasting
to first get a famous father. Once you pick that up then I think you're
fine. No. I do think you need a break. But I tell people all the time that
if you can do the job, then there's a spot for you. I refuse to believe
that there isn't any room in this business. People leave jobs and jobs open
up every year. If you can do the job, you'll find your way into the broadcast
booth. "I went to the minor leagues and broadcast in the minors for a couple
of years. That's where I got my feet wet and understood the business even
better than from just watching my father. I'm also a fan of the game. I
think that's important. If you're going to be on the late night plane flights
and doing games day after day, you've got to love this game. If you do that,
if you work hard, if you read up, if you study and you can do the job, I
guarantee you will find your way into a major league broadcast booth."
LS: "The fact is that you didn't just get there because you were the
son of Jack Buck. You are talented and recognized as one of the up and coming
sportscasters. Do you find it was education, the knowledge of the game,
the love of the sport or is it a combination of everything?"
JB: "I think it's a combination. But the main thing is that I grew up
in a broadcast booth and I don't think you can ever replace that. You can't
learn that anywhere. You can't go to a university and study the game of
baseball. My dad took me everywhere when I was a kid, different cities,
in the broadcast booth and in the clubhouse. I'm very comfortable around
major leaguers. "I think that's another factor, knowing how to act around
these guys and how to treat them and how to expect to be treated. Sometimes
you're going to get your heart broken standing there with a tape recorder
and sometimes you're going to strike gold. Being around big league broadcasts
all my life gave me a good start. But the main thing, I think, is not relying
on my last name to get me a job. It's by working hard at it. When I was
13, I was doing the games into a tape recorder next to my dad. I think there
is nothing better in this profession than to do it time and time again.
You're not going to get better in play-by-play unless you're constantly
doing it, whether its sitting at home in front of the TV or in the upper
deck of a half-empty stadium doing the game into a tape recorder. That's
the way you get better."
LS: "What was the most exciting event in your broadcasting career so
JB: ""Well, I still have to go back to the '96 World Series when I got
a chance to do that on national television and watch the Yankees come back
after being down two games to none. I would say that is the highlight of
my young career right now. "
LS: "Were you the youngest sportscaster to do a World Series?"
JB: "Actually, Vin Scully was the youngest to broadcast a World Series
but he didn't do the entire thing. I'm the youngest to do the whole thing
and the youngest to do an All-Star game. Those were all fun things. But
I think the most important thing is to not take it for granted and appreciate
that you got the chance to do it. "The biggest thing that I've learned from
my father is to not have an ego about this, to realize that I'm lucky to
be doing it and to treat everybody the same, whether they're Mark McGwire
or the guy tearing the tickets for somebody to go see Mark McGwire. Just
be a good guy. Don't get hung up on yourself."
LS: "When we inducted your dad into the ASA Hall of Fame, Stan Musial
made the presentation. Do you have a chance to see Stan?"
JB: "Actually, I was with Stan playing golf the day that Joe DiMaggio
died this past week. That's another part of it. Being around the St. Louis
Cardinals and calling somebody like Stan Musial and Red Schoedienst and
George Kissell friends of mine even though I'm just 29 is invaluable. These
people are legends of the game, Hall of Famers. And when you have the chance
to be around Hall of Famers, to play golf with them, go to lunch with them
and you also know their families, it's a whole other wealth of information
that you can tap into to try to help you learn this game."
LS: "How is your dad, by the way?"
JB: "My dad is good. He's coming back for another year. He started in
1954 so he's approaching 50 years in the broadcast booth. He's going to
do all the home games this year and some of the road games. So we'll get
a chance to do some games at home together. It's an honor to sit next to
him. I'm a firm believer that you pick up little things from the people
you work with. That's why I love being on the air with him. Because if I
pick up some little nuance day after day from him, then I think I'll be
LS: "If you were the interviewer, what question would you like to be
JB: "I would say, 'What is Jack Buck really like?' That's something,
I think, that people want to know but might not want to ask me. Like I said
earlier, he is the most giving man I've ever met. He is the funniest, the
most down to earth and the most successful guy I've ever met. "I probably
would also ask, 'Was someone 26 years old intimidated by stepping into a
network broadcast booth and doing the World Series in front of the entire
nation?' "I'm a firm believer of when you're in a situation, you just let
it fly. You hope to do it justice. You work hard and prepare and you've
got to trust yourself to do a good job. But I would have hated to come out
of that broadcast booth saying, 'I wish I would have said this,' or, 'I
wish I hadn't been so nervous,' or, 'I wish would have been more relaxed.'
I took that approach from day one. It's just like a player. Once you get
into the game, the last thing you're thinking about is pressure. The last
thing you're thinking about is how young you are. The last thing you're
thinking about is how many people are watching or listening. You just want
to do your job. And when you're prepared, you can do that. That's the way
I feel and that's the way I approach it."
American Sportscasters Association, Inc.