Joseph Francis Buck is an American sportscaster.
The son of sportscaster Jack Buck, he worked for Fox Sports from its 1994 inception through 2022, including roles as lead play-by-play announcer for the network's National Football League and Major League Baseball coverage. He served as the play-by-play announcer for the World Series from 1996 to 2021, with the exceptions of 1997 and 1999, when Bob Costas called those particular World Series for NBC.
In 2022, Buck moved to ESPN, where he serves as the lead play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Football.
Buck called play-by-play for the then-Louisville Redbirds, a minor league affiliate of the Cardinals, and was a reporter for ESPN's coverage of the Triple-A All-Star Game in 1989. In 1991, he did reporting for St Louis' CBS affiliate KMOV. Also, in 1991 Buck began broadcasting for the Cardinals on local television and KMOX Radio, filling in while his father was working on CBS telecasts. In the 1992–93 season, he was the play-by-play voice for University of Missouri basketball broadcasts.
Buck continued to call Cardinals games after being hired by Fox Sports, initially with his father on KMOX and later on FSN Midwest television. As his network duties increased, however, his local workload shrank, and prior to the 2008 season it was announced that he would no longer be calling Cardinals telecasts for FSN Midwest. This marked the first time since 1960 that a member of the Buck family was not part of the team's broadcasting crew.
Fox Sports (1994–2021)
In 1994, Buck was hired by Fox, and at the age of 25 became the youngest man ever to announce a regular slate of National Football League games on network television.
In 1996, he was named Fox's lead play-by-play voice for Major League Baseball, teaming with Tim McCarver, who had previously worked with his father on CBS. That year, he became the youngest man to do a national broadcast (for all nine innings and games, as a network employee as opposed to simply being a representative of one of the participating teams) for a World Series, surpassing Sean McDonough, who called the 1992 World Series for CBS at the age of 30. McDonough had replaced Jack Buck as CBS's lead baseball play-by-play man after he was fired in late 1991.
On September 8, 1998, Buck called Mark McGwire's 62nd home run that broke Roger Maris' single-season record. The game was nationally televised live in prime time on Fox. It was a rarity for a nationally televised regular season game not to be aired on cable since the end of the Monday/Thursday Night Baseball era on ABC in 1989.
During Fox's broadcast of the 2002 World Series, Buck paid implicit tribute to his father, who had died a few months earlier (he had read the eulogy at his father's funeral) by calling the final out of Game 6 (which tied the series at 3–3, and thus ensured there would be a Game 7 broadcast the next night) with the phrase, "We'll see you tomorrow night." This was the same phrase with which Jack Buck had famously called Kirby Puckett's home run off Braves pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, which ended Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. Since then, Joe has continued to use this phrase at appropriate times, including Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, in which the Boston Red Sox famously rallied off New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning to avoid elimination. When David Ortiz's walk-off home run finally won it for the Red Sox in the 12th inning, Buck uttered, "We'll see you later tonight," alluding to the fact that the game had extended into the early morning. He also used the phrase at the end of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series when the Cardinals' David Freese hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning against the Rangers to send the series to a seventh game (it was actually 20 years and a day since Kirby Puckett's home run). The similarity of both the call and the game situation resulted in mentions on national news broadcasts.
Another notable Red Sox game in the ALCS was in 2013, Game 2 against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. The Red Sox were trailing 5–1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, with the bases loaded with David Ortiz at-bat. Ortiz hit a game-tying grand slam off Tigers' closer Joaquín Benoit. His call: "Hard hit into right, back at the wall," and then he calls, "TIE GAME!" as the ball flies over Torii Hunter, who flipped over the outfield wall.
Later in his time with Fox, Buck called a limited selection of regular-season games each year (typically featuring big-market teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and/or Cubs), as well as the All-Star Game, one of the League Championship Series, and the World Series. From 2016 to 2021, he was paired with color analyst John Smoltz and field reporter Ken Rosenthal. Besides working with Tim McCarver for 18 seasons (1996–2013), Buck also worked with former MLB player and current MLB Network/Fox Sports analyst Harold Reynolds and baseball insider Tom Verducci for 2 seasons (2014–2015). About a month or two after the 2015 World Series, Reynolds and Verducci were demoted to the #2 team and John Smoltz moved up from the #2 team (with Matt Vasgersian) in order to take Reynolds and Verducci's places.
From 1996 to 2021, Buck called 23 World Series and 21 All-Star Games for Fox, the most of any play-by-play announcer on network television.
Soon after arriving at Fox, Buck became the play-by-play man on the network's #4 NFL broadcast team, with Tim Green as his color commentator. After three years, he stopped doing NFL games to concentrate on his baseball duties full-time. During the 2001 season, Buck occasionally filled in for Curt Menefee as the network's number-six play-by-play man.
Buck became Fox's top play-by-play man in 2002, replacing Pat Summerall. For many seasons, he was teamed with Troy Aikman as color commentator and Erin Andrews as the sideline reporter. (Buck also worked with Cris Collinsworth from 2002 to 2004, before the latter's move to Showtime, NFL Network, and NBC.) Buck is only the third announcer to handle a television network's lead MLB and NFL coverage in the same year (following NBC's Curt Gowdy and ABC's Al Michaels). By 2002, his Fox duties forced him to cut his local Cardinals schedule to 25 games. (Eventually, Buck left the Cardinals altogether to join Fox Sports "full-time" in 2008.) Notable games he called included Super Bowl XLII, Miracle at the New Meadowlands, Super Bowl LI, the Minneapolis Miracle, and the final Green Bay Packers home game in Milwaukee at County Stadium.
During the 2006 season, Buck briefly hosted Fox's pre-game show Fox NFL Sunday, with him and Curt Menefee jointly replacing James Brown. To accommodate his involvement, the show began to broadcast on-site from the location of Fox's top game of the week. In 2007, Buck stepped down as host to focus on his play-by-play duties, and Fox NFL Sunday reverted back to primarily being broadcast from Fox Sports' studios in Los Angeles.
On October 14, 2012, Buck called a doubleheader, first with the New York Giants-San Francisco 49ers game at 4:25 PM, then traveled via trolley for the seven-mile journey across town to call Game 1 of the NLCS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants.
The opportunity presented itself again on October 28, 2018, when Fox would carry the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as its featured NFL game before Game 5 of the 2018 World Series, to be played five miles away at Dodger Stadium. However, Buck chose to concentrate on baseball, citing traffic concerns in Los Angeles and already being busy calling the NFL and MLB simultaneously. Thom Brennaman, who has served as Buck's fill-in during the MLB postseason in the past, handled the Packers-Rams game.
In April 2014, it was announced that Buck would team with Greg Norman to anchor Fox's new package of United States Golf Association telecasts, most prominently the U.S. Open tournament. The pair made their broadcast debut at the Franklin Templeton Shootout (an event also hosted by Norman) on December 12–14, 2014. Norman was fired by Fox and replaced with Paul Azinger in 2016.
HBO Sports (2009–2010)
On February 5, 2009, Buck signed with HBO to host a sports-based talk show for the network called Joe Buck Live, with a format similar to that of Costas Now, the monthly HBO program previously hosted by Bob Costas. The show's debut on June 15, 2009, made national headlines due to the tension-filled banter between Buck and guest Artie Lange, a comedian from The Howard Stern Show, who made several jokes at Buck's expense. Two more episodes aired in 2009. In March 2010, Buck told a St. Louis radio station that HBO might be planning to cancel Joe Buck Live, adding that he "won't really miss" the program and that it involved "a lot more effort and hassle than I ever expected". HBO subsequently confirmed the show's cancellation to Broadcasting & Cable.
On March 16, 2022, ESPN announced that it had signed Buck and Aikman to a multi-year deal with the network, which saw them become the new lead broadcast team of Monday Night Football beginning in the 2022 NFL season, and also work on projects for ESPN+. The move ended their 20-season tenure as Fox's lead NFL broadcast team. As compensation for Buck leaving Fox Sports with one year left on his contract, ESPN agreed to transfer one of its Big Ten college football games for the 2022 season to Fox.
In May 2022, Buck made his on-air debut at ESPN during the 2022 PGA Championship, hosting an alternate broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN+ produced by Peyton and Eli Manning, featuring ESPN golf analyst Michael Collins and other celebrity guests.
Buck was offered to fill in for an ESPN-broadcast MLB game as well, but declined, telling a Sports Illustrated podcast that he was no longer interested in calling baseball, since "’I feel like I've done all I could do there. If someday I wanna go back and call a few games—maybe. But I don't have that itch."