This weekend marks the beginning of one of the most emotional weeks in St. Louis Cardinals history.
On the morning of June 18, 2002, Cardinals fans woke up to a very sad piece of news—the voice of the Cardinals for nearly a half-century, Jack Buck, had died.
With a deep and slightly scratchy voice, Buck was the middle man between the Cardinals and the average fan for many years. For thousands of fans throughout the Midwest, Buck was the only Cardinals voice they had ever heard.
Before the days of cable television, online streaming and up-to-the-minute news websites, there was radio. And there was Jack Buck.
Buck was more than just an announcer for KMOX blasting calls for hundreds of miles. To Cardinals fans, he was a symbol of something special. A kind and gentle man who always took time to speak to his fans, Buck knew his role in the grand scheme of Cardinals history.
There are countless tales from fans who met Buck at Busch Stadium. One man, Bobby Greer of Dexter, Mo., met him in the 1990s and said he didn’t just sign an autograph and rush away. Greer said when Buck signed his baseball, he also wanted to talk.
Buck didn’t give you an autograph—he gave you a memory.
In the years before he died, he joked on the radio about his color-blindness and the difficulties it created for him. He told a story of how his wife, Carole, would always lay his clothes out so he didn’t go to work looking foolish.
That system worked for years, until one time, Carole had to stay in the hospital overnight before Jack had a game the following morning. He said when he got up he was puzzled, but gathered together an outfit that appeared to him to match.
When he arrived at work he quickly discovered he was wrong. As co-workers and colleagues looked at him funny, they all knew what had happened. Carole hadn't gotten his clothes ready. If memory serves, Buck said he was wearing pink and green.
Buck is best known for his call of the infamous Ozzie Smith home run to end the 1985 National League Championship Series.
“Go Crazy, folks! Go crazy!”
That is one of many moments in Cardinals history that fans watched through the eyes of the man behind the microphone.
His death in 2002 sparked a memorial outside of Busch Stadium with fans leaving their testaments to an icon of multiple generations. Before baseball resumed in St. Louis, a memorial service was held at the stadium. Thousands of fans passed his coffin to say thank you to a special man that most of them never met.
It was a fitting send-off for a fine man.