Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Jack Buck

The Top 5 Iconic Moments in Cardinal History

Sometimes the fearless leader of the UCB Daniel Shoptaw puts us on the spot with the monthly projects. January’s project is the top five moments in Cardinal history.

Five? I only get five? I don’t know how Bob Netherton managed to narrow it down, but after reading his I was spurned towards figuring out mine (So… thanks Bob!).

If you are digging back to the very beginning of the Cardinals, the pre-1900’s would be a starting point, but those moments were not really ‘iconic.’ Let’s see… where to start…

5. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season

Have you ever known a player to completely change the way the game was played singlehandedly? No, you think. That doesn’t happen. One player cannot change an entire sport. Oh yes it can…

Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
32 STL NL 22 9 .710 1.12 34 34 0 28 13 0 304.2 198 49 38 11 62 6 268 7 0 4 1161 258 0.853 5.8 0.3 1.8 7.9 4.32 AS,CYA-1,MVP-1,GG
17 Seasons 251 174 .591 2.91 528 482 21 255 56 6 3884.1 3279 1420 1258 257 1336 118 3117 102 13 108 16068 128 1.188 7.6 0.6 3.1 7.2 2.33
162 Game Avg. 17 12 .591 2.91 36 32 1 17 4 0 262 221 96 85 17 90 8 210 7 1 7 1082 128 1.188 7.6 0.6 3.1 7.2 2.33
Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2012.

Yes, you are reading that correctly. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season was other-worldly. A 1.12 ERA, 13 complete game shutouts, giving up 38 earned runs over 304 innings… who does this?

No one, not since Bob Gibson. You see, 1968 became somewhat of a “year of the pitcher” in Major League Baseball. Run-scoring was down, and since most fans come to see at least a little bit of action at a baseball game, the powers that be determined that this was a terrible thing. The result? The actual pitchers’ mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 inches. It was a literal leveling of the playing field, and all Gibson got to show for his season was an All-Star selection, Gold Glove, Cy Young, MVP award, and a National League pennant.

Oh, that’s all.

4. October 27, 2011 – “They just won’t go away.”

Despite the recentness of this moment, it is crazy to think that game 6 of this past year’s World Series might not make this list. On the whole I feel like I am a pretty lucky baseball fan. I’ve seen my team play in 3 World Series (winning twice) and countless playoff games in my 25 years on this earth. On the flip side, my grandpa turned 80 years old last year and is still waiting for his beloved Cubs to win it all.

The 2011 postseason had its share of thrills, spills and chills, but the Cardinals found themselves against the wall, finding themselves down to their final strike not once, but twice, and they still came out on top. David Freese became a household name with his game-tying triple, then followed it up with his walk-off winner. Joe Buck gave us all goosebumps with his call of the home run, channeling his dad with a “We will see you tomorrow night!”

The team wouldn’t quit. They pushed through and came out on top. Also, to further my point that I am a very lucky baseball fan? October 27 is my birthday. ;)

3. The teams that would not die. 

The 2011 team was not the only one that was left for dead. 1964 was a wild pennant run in and of itself (and if you want a more detailed look, check out Bob Netherton’s posts on the subject). Ten games back? Nine games back? No matter, somehow these two Cardinal teams rose from the ashes and claimed a place in history.

Now, did it take a hard fall from the teams that were ahead of them in order for the birds on the bat to make it to the playoffs? You betcha. The 1964 Phillies are still remembered for that epic collapse. Will the 2011 Braves be remembered in the same way? Probably not, in all honesty. People don’t talk about the 1964 World Series the same way they will talk about the 2011 version. One thing is certain: no one will forget the Cardinals and their fight to the end!

2. Big Mac breaks the record

1998 was a magical summer for 11 year old me. I was living and dying with every long ball hit by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I watched more Cubs baseball on WGN than any sane baseball fan should ever have to endure.

Yeah yeah, steriods. I know. But I didn’t back then. I’m not the only one that didn’t see behind the curtain either. Many of those that did, just didn’t care. For the first time since the strike of 1994 crippled many baseball fans from their love of the game, baseball had life. Games at Kauffman Stadium and the Astrodome were being sold out, and those teams had no business having that many fans in the stands. Nightly news would be cut off to update the score and the fact that Mac/Sammy had just blasted another one (and I didn’t live in the St. Louis/Chicago area to get full coverage).

But September 8, 1998 is a night that I will never forget. I screamed, I jumped around the living room, and I almost cut off my poor sisters’ circulation from hugging them so tightly. Watching that ball skirt over the wall, watching Mac almost miss first base, seeing the Maris family and Sammy running in from the outfield and all the people screaming and cheering… I was a part of that! We were all part of that. Despite what we know now… back then we were all just baseball fans again.

1.  “Go Crazy Folks”

Ozzie with one out. Took a ball just outside. Cardinals have left ten men on and they left a lotta men on early. A runner at third nobody out in the first and didn’t score, second and third in the second and didn’t score. Smith corks one into into right down the line… it may go… go crazy folks! Go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3-2 on a home run by the Wizard! Go crazy!

Seeing the words just doesn’t do that call justice. It never will. The 1985 NLCS game 5 home run by Ozzie Smith was great in and of itself. He wasn’t a home run hitter, especially not from the left side. The home run was incredible, but it was not the iconic moment.

It was the call. It was Jack Buck. There will never be another.

~*~*~*~*~*~

There you go – the top 5 moments in Cardinals history from my eyes. What say you? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments…

Is it baseball season yet?

9 Years Later…

It’s been 9 years to the day when the landscape of the Cardinals clubhouse made a drastic change. No one could have seen it coming. No one would have ever predicted it. But every Cardinals fan old enough to remember the events of June 18-22, 2002, will be able to tell the story.

Jack Buck, beloved voice of the Cardinals for almost 50 years, had been in the hospital for treatment on a variety of ailments, from his well publicized Parkinson’s disease to lung cancer to an intestinal blockage. On June 18th, Cardinals ace Darryl Kile left the mound at Busch Stadium after 8 strong innings against the Anaheim Angels. The 7-2 win over the AL West foes pushed the Cardinals into first place in the NL Central. Little did Cardinal fans know that their world was about to change.

A few hours after the game ended, the news started circulating that while the Cardinals were battling for first place, Jack had been battling for his life, and that battle had ended. My family was on vacation in Yellowstone when I heard the news, and I felt like a little piece of me was gone. We watched some of the funeral proceedings from our hotel room before venturing out for more sightseeing, but I was thinking about Jack.

On June 22, Jack’s funeral was in the past, and the team was foraging on, his memory burned in their minds. The Cardinals were in Chicago to play those lovable losers in the Cubs. Still out West, my family had some downtime at the hotel, and we turned on the game. Or at least, we thought it was the game.

We watched, stunned, as Joe Girardi from the Cubs strode up to a microphone and announced that the game would be postponed due to a tragedy in the Cardinals family. The emotion visible on Girardi’s face told us all that something had gone horribly wrong. When we later learned of Darryl Kile’s passing due to a heart attack, those same emotions from just a few days earlier came flooding back. It is a memory I will never forget.

I can’t believe it has been 9 years.

I wrote more about Darryl Kile for i70 Baseball today. Please head over there and check out more about his life, his death, and his legacy.

I’ll end today with a poem by Jack Buck. Baseball is life, and the lives of Jack Buck and Darryl Kile will be remembered by the baseball community for years to come.

365

By Jack Buck

When someone asks you your favorite sport
And you answer Baseball in a blink
There are certain qualities you must possess
And you’re more attached than you think.
In the frozen grip of winter
I’m sure you’ll agree with me
Not a day goes by without someone
Talking baseball to some degree.
The calendar flips on New Year’s Day
The Super Bowl comes and it goes
Get the other sports out of the way
The green grass and the fever grows.
It’s time to pack a bag and take a trip
To Arizona or the Sunshine State
Perhaps you can’t go, but there’s the radio
So you listen-you root-you wait.
They start the campaign, pomp and pageantry reign
You claim the pennant on Opening Day

From April till fall
You follow the bouncing white ball
Your team is set to go all the way.
They fall short of the series
You have a case of the “wearies”
And need as break from the game
But when Christmas bells jingle
You feel that old tingle
And you’re ready for more of the same.
It will be hot dogs for dinner
Six months of heaven, a winner
Yes, Baseball has always been it.
You would amaze all your friends
If they knew to what ends
You’d go for a little old hit.
The best times you’re had
Have been with your Mom and your Dad
And a bat and a ball and a glove.

From the first time you played
Till the last time you prayed
It’s been a simple matter of love.

In Honor of Father’s Day

Jack Buck, Sept. 17, 2001

Fathers and sons are understandably a common baseball archetype, the basis for movies like Field of Dreams and books like Will Leitch’s Are We Winning (which is sitting on top of my to-be-read pile). In recent years for the Cardinals, we saw Chris Duncan join his father Dave on the team and Scott Spiezio become a Cards World Series champion just as his father Ed had been in 1964 and 1967. Yet the Cardinals father-son combo that meant the most to me personally was in the broadcast booth instead of on the field: Jack and Joe Buck.

As I detailed in my history here, I’ve only been a Cardinals fan for 10 years. My first as a fan in 2000 was decidedly old-fashioned, as I mostly followed the Cards via radio. (And not today’s MLB Gameday Audio on an iPhone I could take anywhere. No, it was the radio in my car or home stereo from a station 30 miles away that sometimes wouldn’t come in clearly.) It was quite a change of pace from having been a Cub fan and having access to games via WGN on cable and an in-town radio station where I never needed to worry about static. Yet listening to the Cardinals helped me to learn more about the team each game too, thanks to the wit and wisdom of Jack Buck.

There’s a wonderful book called What Baseball Means to Me that features essays from a variety of people about the sport – everyone from Dave Barry and Rudy Giuliani to Tim Russert and Pat Sajak plus more than a hundred others including both Jack and Joe. “In baseball you tell a story as the game goes along,” Jack wrote in his entry. And even in 2000, as he was reaching the end of his broadcasting career, he told masterful stories.

I especially loved hearing Jack and Joe together. That season, I kept an ongoing journal about the season (my intention at the time was to write a book about becoming a Cardinals fan). Flipping back through it, I found this entry from April 9, 2000: “Following the games only on radio is taking some getting used to (there’s no box in the corner to give me the score!) but it does have one benefit: listening to Jack and Joe Buck. Today was Willie McGee Day, with a tribute to him before the game. At one point during their first inning broadcasting together, Joe asked his dad ‘Did you cry?’ as they were talking about the pre-game ceremony. It sounded like something one of my brothers would ask our Dad.”

Hearing the two of them together was always special, because you could tell from listening how enjoyable they found it. During the 2001 season, I was at a Sunday ESPN night game so Joe was in the radio booth with Jack instead of on Fox Sports Midwest. There was a rain delay during the game and the team was in the clubhouse, so my friend could no longer use her binoculars to watch Mark McGwire’s every move. So I used them and watched Jack and Joe together. They sat side by side and it just looked like they were having a conversation. I didn’t hear any of the radio broadcast, but it looked like it could be a chat around the kitchen table or at a bar. Just hanging out, talking. “I know what baseball means to me,” Joe Buck wrote the book mentioned above. “Baseball is that which binds me to the man I most admire.”

While I didn’t have the opportunity to experience most of Jack’s signature moments live, there is one unforgettable moment that brought me – and no doubt everyone – to tears. Sept. 17, 2001, was the first Cardinals game since the terrorist attacks nearly a week before on Sept. 11. And, as described here, he read the poem he had written, “For America.” I can’t tell you what the score was of the game, or even who the Cardinals played that night, yet I will always remember Jack saying, “Should we be here? Yes!”

And, sadly, that was one of the last Cardinals games Jack ever did. It’s perhaps fitting to remember Jack Buck today, June 19, since yesterday was the eighth anniversary of his passing in 2002. That was the start of such an unbelievably emotional time for all of us as Cardinals fans, although of course we didn’t know then how much worse it was going to get – we only knew how sad it was that Jack was now gone and that memorable voice silenced for good.

I am sure that Joe Buck is remembering and missing his father this weekend, just as I am remembering and missing my own Dad and how much I learned about baseball from him too. “No sport celebrates its history quite like baseball,” Joe Buck wrote. “It is a great game filled with good-hearted people and surrounded by fans who care about it … It links generation to generation, father to son—” And father to daughter.

Happy Father’s Day.

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