Just caught up with this story by Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the 10-year anniversary of the death of Jack Buck.
Not that anyone needed to be reminded, but Caesar does a nice job of reporting just how much the legendary broadcaster meant to the baseball-crazy town.
From Bob Costas:
“It’s hard to imagine a St. Louisan — Stan Musial might be someone who would be in that category — whose life and whose passing would have as much an impact on such a wide swath of the community,” recalls Bob Costas, who has become perhaps America’s top sportscaster after having his start at KMOX in 1974 when Buck was its sports director. “Just about everybody felt in some sense they knew Jack Buck. Even people who weren’t avid baseball fans had some memories or experiences surrounding the Cardinals. But also in truth a huge number of St. Louisans actually did over the years have some personal encounter with Jack Buck.
“He was a fixture in the community for so long, and he did so many charity things, that a huge percentage of St. Louisans are probably able to say, ‘Yeah, when I was in high school he spoke to my class,’ or ‘I ran this charity auction and he did this for us’ or ‘He came to this event,’ or ‘My father used to play cards with him,’ or ‘I ran into him at the racetrack,’ or ‘I saw him at Al Baker’s (restaurant).’ Wherever it was, he was a famous St. Louisan but he also was person people actually felt like they knew.’’
Caesar writes about how entertainer Tony Orlando, a friend of Buck’s, went to great lengths to attend the funeral.
One was entertainer Tony Orlando, who knew Buck for many years and admired him greatly. Orlando went to extraordinary lengths to be on hand. He had a performance the night before in Las Vegas, then quickly headed to the airport to fly to Los Angeles to connect to a red-eye flight to St. Louis. He attended the service, then went straight to the airport to return to Vegas in time to be on stage that night.
It made for a very long 24-hours.
“I just felt the need to be there,” Orlando recalls. “It was a worthy trip. … I was tired, but mostly what tired me out was that it was draining to see the hurt in everybody. … There was a solemnness, it was an amazing reaction from a city. I know this may be a stretch for some people, but not for people in St. Louis: It reminded me of when (President) John F. Kennedy died, the tremendous weight that was on the common person on the street. Everybody was feeling his loss. I could tell the people were hit hard by his passing. It was a sad day, but an interesting lovefest of a funeral.
“It was a privilege to know him, it was an honor to be there at his funeral,” Orlando says. “It’s a privilege to know his wife and son Joe, whom I adore.”
From his son, Joe:
“It was unbelievable,” says Joe Buck, the Fox network’s lead baseball and football announcer. “To this day I’m still grateful to all those people who called in to KMOX and shared stories about him, things that he had done that we as a family didn’t even know about. I think that’s what made him so special, he did so many things because they were right, so many things he did because they felt good. He wasn’t the kind of guy to come home and say, ‘Hey guess what I did today?’ He just did it, it gave him satisfaction and he knew it was something that uplifted somebody else. That was good enough for him, he didn’t need to be patted on the back.”
Do yourself a favor and read the entire piece.