I’ve said for many years that I believe Joe Buck is one of the most unfairly criticized sportscasters in the business. He consistently rises to the occasion and nails the biggest moments on many of the industry’s biggest stages. He’s the type of broadcaster where the game feels bigger when he is on the call. It’s why I was excited to finally dive into his book “Lucky Bastard,” where he goes deep into the ups and downs of his life and career thus far.
Perhaps the reason this is such a fascinating read is because Joe Buck is perceived as someone who has lived a largely charmed existence. Growing up the son of legendary sportscaster Jack Buck certainly has its advantages, which he freely admits, but everyone has their own unique challenges in their lives. In many ways his adversity seems even more difficult due to the public nature of his existence. Here are a few of my takeaways from the book.
- Insecurity: We like to think that everything comes easy to the best in the business. Maybe in some cases it’s even true, but not for Joe Buck. Being the son of a famous broadcaster set the bar impossibly high, and either directly or indirectly led to many challenging moments in his life. The story that sticks out the most was when he almost permanently lost his voice due to a complication from anesthesia used during a hair plugs operation.
- Self Awareness: This book is written in a very self deprecating manner, which to be fair, could be written just for effect, but I choose to think it’s legitimate. It literally takes less than one line into the book before he refers to himself as an idiot. It’s easy to empathize with him when he dives deep into the criticism he receives, especially when he admits that certain examples are deserved. Lastly, he never disputes that being the son of Jack Buck opened up doors for him that were essential to his fast rise in sportscasting.
- On The Job Training: It was interesting to see that his dad never actively trained or encouraged him to get into sportscasting. However, being at the ballpark around broadcasting greatness led to developing play-by-play skills by osmosis. It also helped him to develop many of the intangible talents that aren’t always readily on display. Seeing his dad treat every opportunity to speak at a St. Louis Rotary or Kiwanis Club like an important chance to give back to the community helped shaped his giving and accessible personality.
Oftentimes sportscaster biographies are stuffy or boring. They often seem hesitant to truly expose the difficult or controversial moments of their lives and want to protect the teams they cover. Not the case here, I really enjoyed this book!
From the perspective of a broadcaster trying to learn about the craft, there really isn’t a ton of valuable insight into his process. What he does share are a whole boatload of stories. Whether, it’s his harrowing tale of peeing in a press box trash can while calling a Brett Favre touchdown pass or reflecting on the awkwardness of visiting his half-siblings, this book is honest and entertaining. I highly recommend scheduling a visit to your local book store or library and checking out this book.