In the ever-increasing sports media bubble created by ESPN and grown by networks like FOX and CBS, certain broadcasters have become just as - if not more - popular than the celebrity athletes they are paid to cover. Chief amongst these in the second generation of broadcasters is FOX's Joe Buck, head play-by-play announcer for the MLB and NFL on FOX. Though he made his name following his father's footsteps as the St. Louis Cardinals' play-by-play announcer, he has gone on to produce a sprawling career, enlightening some and enraging others, and remains one of the most influential broadcasters currently calling sports on the air.
Joe Buck was born on April 25 in St. Petersburg, FL during the St. Louis Cardinals' 1969 spring training season that brought his father and family, Cardinals' play-by-play announcer Jack Buck, into the Sunshine state from their home in Missouri. From his earliest days, Joe looked up to his father in the Busch Stadium press box, and even called an inning on his 18th birthday, when Jack stepped out of the booth for a quick break. But it wasn't enough to satiate the young Joe, who quickly found himself with odd broadcasting jobs during a brief stint at Indiana University, and eventually working his way up through various minor-league teams before landing himself right in his father's booth for the Cardinals, filling in for the late Jack Buck when he called nationally televised games for CBS.
In 1994, Joe Buck was hired by Fox to help call NFL games, and by 1996, was calling nationally televised baseball games as their lead play-by-play announcer for Major League Baseball, alongside Tim McCarver. While his reach into every corner of the MLB found him calling occasional games for every franchise, his own St. Louis Cardinals never seemed to stray too far from the national spotlight, and his microphone. Mark McGwire's 1998 home-run race with Sammy Sosa gave Buck the opportunity to call regular-season Cardinals games, and the many playoff runs of the mid-2000s yet again found Buck back inside Busch Stadium, famously playing off his father's iconic catchphrase when Cardinals' third baseman David Freese hit a game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, shouting "We will see you...tomorrow night!"
By the early 2000s, Buck was breaking youth-records for his many broadcasting duties, which saw him calling countless NFL and MLB games, horse racing, fishing, and even an experiment with a short-lived roundtable talk show called Joe Buck Live, which only lasted three episodes. But Buck is not known solely for his long resume. In a 2005 playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers, Buck objected over a touchdown celebration by the Vikings' Randy Moss, who pretended to moon the Green Bay crowd in a nod to a back-and-forth the two franchises had been jokingly fighting during the postseason. Buck's disgust pushed Vikings' owner Red McCombs to publicly chastise the call, going as far as to request Buck be removed from calling the remaining playoff games. But while many in the sports media echoed McCombs' objections, Fox held onto Buck, refusing to admonish their celebrated broadcaster.
Still, Buck's personality has often been grating to many of his peers in the broadcasting industry, as well as some athletes he has covered over the years. In 2002, after meeting Giants' slugger Barry Bonds, Buck made public a minor feud between the two after feeling brushed aside during an earlier meeting. And in 2008, Buck again stoked the fires of his broadcasting peers when he announced in a radio interview with ESPN's Colin Cowherd that he would rather watch The Bachelorette than follow sports outside his broadcasting booth. But controversy aside, Buck's tenure as Fox's leading sportscaster has made him all but a household name, refusing to step down from either outside pressure, or even an ailment on his vocal cords which caused him to tone his famous excitement down during the 2011 NFL and MLB seasons. He remains the MLB on Fox's head play-by-play announcer, as well as leading Fox's NFL coverage throughout the early 2000s.
Became St. Louis Cardinals' play-by-play announcer
Became MLB on Fox's lead announcer
Became NFL on Fox's lead announcer