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Jack Buck

By Dean Nicosia 

6/19/02

Another great voice is silenced, a good man is gone, but we will see him again someday, when we get to heaven. Jack Buck, who passed away on Tuesday, for many people is the voice of the Cardinals or even the voice of Baseball, and today I even heard that in 1953 he called the Wings games here, before moving on to St. Louis. But for me he is the voice of Monday night football, on the radio with Hank Stram.

 It was the early nineties, I was going to college at MCC then Fisher. I lived in the city off Lyell ave on McNaughton street. Not a bad area, if you stayed off Lyell. I lived with my Boss and his wife, the people who I work for to this day, people who I call family, and have for so long. The screen printing business was young, and required many hours of attention, and so did school. So Monday night was my only night to go do my laundry down at  the joint in Gates. As much as I loved football, I decided one night in 1990 that I was going to have to head down there and do my laundry while the game was on, and listen to it on the radio, out in the car.  And even try to get some homework in.

 As much as I've loved radio my whole life, being a big WHAM fan, I had never really listened to football on the radio, unless that was the only way I could catch a Patriots game. It didn't really seem like a radio sport in the way that baseball is, that is until the first time I heard Jack Buck call a game. His voice at that point in his life, was deep and full, resonating on my car stereo, loud and clear with all of the football sounds in the back ground, it was way better sound than my little TV. Jack Buck had a style that drew you in, and painted the picture of the game in your mind, and he was filled with old stories, and of course he was filled with class.

It became a Monday night ritual with me for a few years, after working late I would grab my laundry up and head out around 8pm. I would go for dinner first, at a place just around the corner on Lyell called Dileo's. This was the best Italian food you could buy at a take-out Pizza joint. It was run by a family, the parents from Italy, accent and all. They were always nice to me, and I would eat right there. (I think they had 3 tables, they really were more of a take-out/ delivery place.) I would order the rigatoni and meatball dinner, and chow down after a hard day's work. Reading up in the sports section about the night's match up.

[At this point I should tell you where pasta and football intersect in my life. As a kid growing up, my Italian father would make the sauce on Sundays. It would be started the night before, homemade meatballs and all. My mother being right from England would never be able to master my Grandmothers recipe for sauce, so that was the one meal of the week that my Dad would cook. We would come home from church around noon on Sunday, and my dad would check the sauce and start the pasta. At around 1pm we would eat, and being my Dad's meal, we would eat with the TV on, tuned to football. Living in New England for many years (that's where I came along) he had grown to love the Patriots, so we would always have a Pat's game on if they were playing, even when we moved to Brockport, NY.]

So I would head out of Dileo's, belly full of pasta, around the time that the game was coming on, and make my way into Gates to do my laundry. It was then that I really discovered a love for the game of football, no matter who was playing, it didn't have to be the Patriots, which is a good thing since they weren't on MNF back in those days. I also learned how to enjoy football on the radio, thanks to Jack Buck. With pasta in my belly, and a hot cup of coffee in hand, I would sit out in my car as my washing went through it's cycles inside. I would sit out there in the parking lot, almost in a trance ( you give me a good plate of pasta, and then a nice cup of coffee, and it's like a drug for me) and with Jack Buck calling the game, I would be in a pure state of joy. (That is unless the team that I had on my parley was losing bad.) 

I can't tell you all of Jack Buck's catch phrases, and I never heard him call a baseball game, but I can tell you that I can still hear his voice in my head. His voice and his ability to call a football game had a quality that I can't explain to you. I would have to take you back in time, fill you full of pasta, and give you a nice cup of coffee, on a cool fall evening, and have you sit in my car and listen with me on my big car stereo (I think it was worth as much as the piece of junk car at the time). 

I know he was probably better at calling the Cardinals than he was at MNF. Which is why I know that his is a legendary voice that will be missed by many. 

The last time I saw him was on TV, opening the first baseball game after Sept. 11. He came out and said some touching things that brought a tear to my eye. His age and diseases (Parkinson's among others)  were an obvious struggle for him, but he wanted to be there to do his part, and tell people that it was the right thing to do, to move on and be Americans and have our American pastime. 

I will miss him, I have ever since he left the airwaves on Monday Night Football a few years ago. I have since realized that he was my favorite sports voice ever, just ahead of Harry Callas (the NFL films guy.) It's amazing to me that he rose to the top of my list from a short period of time in my life, a few years in the early nineties.  And I know that there are many more who feel the same about Jack Buck.

Thanks Jack, you served us with class, and for that we are grateful! See you in heaven...

God Bless America!!

...Thatís just my slanted view! God Bless, and Go Patriots!!!