Before you dismiss this as “just a boring sports post,” please know it isn’t that.
I’m watching game 7 right now of the World Series and don’t know who will win. I don’t actually care much. I’m a (mostly nominal) Reds fan and only watch any baseball when it’s like this: dramatic and late.
Part of what I love about sports is the stories. I think the main ways people in America explore/embrace stories is in sports and movies. I wish more people loved books, but we’re wired for stories and sports provide some fascinating ones.
That game six was one of the greatest World Series games of all time, with drama all over. There were many storylines worth following: Comeback after comeback, home-town boy’s heroics, legendary player’s last stand. But the one storyline that got me more than any other involved, not a player, but the guy calling the game.
Like I said, last night was one of the greatest games in World Series history. It was won (after much drama) in the bottom of the 11th on a walk-off homer by local boy David Freese to force game 7. (It kept their team alive for a final game. They play best of 7.) One of the very few games people are comparing it to was 20 years ago when Kirby Puckett hit a walk-off homer to similarly save his team and force a game seven.
Joe Buck did the play-by-play last night, just like his dad, Jack Buck, did 20 years ago. Jack Buck had the famous call when Puckett blasted the game-winner for the Twins 20 years ago, a play call that’s been heard thousands of times. A signature moment for a broadcaster.
When these iconic moments happen, the broadcaster’s call is his moment in the sun. It’s what he’s remembered for. Many broadcasters have memorable calls planned, some others just reach for greatness in the moment (or so I presume). Anyway, the calls broadcasters make in these historic moments are replayed and replayed and are an opportunity for their unique stamp to be placed on a historic moment in sports. They are the voice of a moment. (Remember “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” from Al Michaels?)
When that chance came for Joe Buck last night, in a game that had a similar walk-off homer, he chose not to make a unique statement. He chose to be his father’s son.
I love this. I don’t know much about Joe Buck, but that’s a story that moves me. Maybe it’s because I have such a great dad.
What a stage on which to obey the Fifth Commandment.