We may be nearing the end of an era in baseball broadcasting.
Joe Buck, the lead play-by-play voice for Fox Sports who has called 19 World Series since 1996, says he’s considering leaving his baseball responsibilities behind once his current contract expires.
Buck first hinted at the life-altering decision during a podcast interview with Brad Straubinger on Dec. 7. He expanded on his comments this past Tuesday during a Q&A session with 590 The Fan’s Tim McKiernan, essentially confirming that he’s prepared to walk away from his baseball gig following the 2019 World Series.
“Yeah, I think I — I love it — but I’ve been doing it for a long time and I feel like somebody else should do it. I’ve done enough. I’m signed for three more World Series, and that’ll be 22 — which is stupid to even think about. If somebody said right now, before I walk outta here, you’re done, I’ve had the greatest career miles beyond anything I could have ever dreamed.
But I would like to get some of my time back and be at home, be in St. Louis, be with my wife and watch my kids, even though they’re 20 and 17, and doing their own thing. I’ve been gone a lot this year, and I’m not crying about it. I love it. But I need to take stuff out.”
Buck’s revelation will likely draw mixed responses from fans and overwhelming disappointment from those who worked closely with him. After all, you don’t just cover 19 World Series without having the respect of your peers and co-workers. He’s been a valuable part of the Fox team and a true workhorse covering MLB, the NFL and a select number of golf tournaments each year.
It’s unknown if Buck would continue in a limited capacity or perhaps focus more on his NFL duties. Fox might have some say in that as well after leaning on him (and no doubt paying him) as a multi-purpose broadcaster.
In baseball circles, Buck has been routinely criticized for his laid-back style, which many fans interpret as lack of passion for the product. Who knows, perhaps there’s some validity to that. Or maybe it’s just the easiest shot to take at a guy who has undeniably put the work in. Constant criticism is par for the course given the position he’s held for two decades. Especially when his father, Jack Buck, was a Hall of Fame broadcaster. There’s no way around those comparisons or the stigma that perhaps his name trumped his talent.
Everyone has their opinions. None will be changed by his decision or what’s written between now and that moment.
What seems clear though is the traveling, preparing, making appearances, granting interviews and being the face of a brand, on top of actually calling games, is taking a toll. We only see and hear Joe Buck for three hours a week. Some weeks, his family might see him less than that. It’s a heavy workload that he wants no sympathy for handling, and it would be commendable if he lessened those duties or walked away at a relatively young age (he’ll turn 50 in 2019) to make that family a priority.
BLS H/N: Awful Announcing
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