There was a certain tinge of sadness when Joe Buck abandoned the Cardinal broadcast booth after the 2007 season, but I could understand the move. A nationally-syndicated job with FOX awaited young Buck, and with it all of the riches and fame that a Cardinals broadcasting job could never offer.

Still, for sentimental Cardinal fans, seeing Joe Buck leave our baseball family and the chair of his legendary father felt cold, wrong, decidedly unsentimental. Some broadcasters like Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Mike Shannon, or Milo Hamilton stay with their beloved teams throughout their careers, content with fewer dollars and a smaller but more focused and personal kind of fame. By making this move, Joe Buck demonstrated to the organization and its fans that gave him his start that the Cardinals were too small, too insignificant for his widely-regarded talents. So he left for greener pastures.

Given that Buck was the son of one of the most beloved figures in Cardinal history, fans still received him warmly around town after he left. His chain of restaurants do well in St. Louis, and they do so in part with menu items that play off of baseball names. He’s often called back to St. Louis for various functions and charities and greeted with enthusiastic crowds. Despite abandoning the team for national fame, Cardinal fans were willing to overlook it for the sake of the Buck family legacy.

But then the 2011 postseason happened. With a ragged and determined Cardinal club desperately trying to charge through three tough postseason teams, Cardinal fans noticed a growing edge in Buck’s voice as the Redbirds continued to advance. Then came a legendary Game Six comeback, and those five simple words Buck seared into the memories of Cardinals Nation in the bottom of the tenth inning after a Lance Berkman single tied the game:

They. Just. Won’t. Go. Away.

From then on, Buck positioned himself as an enemy of the team and its fans. There’s no coming back from it. I understand the need to be impartial in a national broadcast and attempt to mask his appreciation for St. Louis, but that turn of phrase goes too far in the other direction. Buck certainly didn’t say anything like that against the Rangers when Josh Hamilton belted a two-run homer in the top of the tenth inning to pull his team back off of the mat. No, he saved such an ugly sentiment for the team that groomed him as a 21 year-old broadcaster and gave him a shot at all of the riches and fame he subsequently received.

It seems that Joe Buck wasn’t well liked by many fans in baseball even before this happened. There is a Facebook page devoted to the idea that Joe Buck Sucks, and fans regularly complain of a perceived bias on his part (Giants fans complained about it during the 2012 postseason, for instance). Many fans complain of Buck’s pomposity and phoniness. He certainly lacks the warmth and likeable nature of his father’s broadcasting style, and this doubtless leads to increased friction with fans.

But for Cardinal fans, those five ugly words Buck used in 2011 continue to throb like an infected splinter.

Today’s announcement that Buck will return to the Cardinal broadcast booth for some undetermined number of games was greeted with the kind of hostility one would expect from a jilted fan base. The fans don’t want Buck back. Interestingly, they’re resisting the idea despite having one of the worst broadcasting teams in the sport. When fans would prefer to listen to Rick Horton over Joe Buck, you know the dislike is serious and real.

Personally, I don’t want him back. He didn’t appreciate what the Cardinals gave him and what he received from the fans. Moreover, I can’t watch highlights of the greatest game in Cardinal history without Buck’s five words besmirching it every single time.

Buck wanted fame and fortune, and he got it. I hope he’s happy with his choice. Now Just Go Away.

About The Author

Lifelong Cardinal fan and general loudmouth.

  • Paul Blythe

    I took that comment, “They just won’t go away” as a compliment. It tells me this is a team that never gives up. I’ll take Joe Buck over Rick Horton and Hrabosky any day. Good Lord I’m sure if ESPN called you you’d be gone in a heartbeat. If I remember correctly Jack did a few World Series too. Jack even had a national show on NBC called Grandstand. It was horrible. He did the Football pregame for a while too. Joe isn’t Jack, No body will ever be Jack just like there will never be another Stan the Man. Get over it and yourself. I will be glad to hear how Joe does especially without McCarver right there. If you want to complain about an ex-Cardinal in the booth hammer McCarver. As far as that goes I met Shannon once in an elevator at old Busch Stadium. I was taking a handicapped friend up to his seats. My friend tried to strike up a conversation with Mike. He ignored him and kind of treated him like the plague. So no one is perfect in Cardinal nation. Except those we put in those positions.

    • Ray DeRousse

      We have definitely hammered McCarver. Can’t stand him.

  • Kim Niffen

    Not a fan of Joe Buck. I felt he showed his bias against the Cardinals in 2006, too. I will stick with our announcers. I especially love hearing Mike Shannon on the radio.

  • Dan Peat

    I agree…that was a compliment. My bigger beef was the fact that he seemed to be in LOVE with the Giants in last year’s NLCS! My family and I actually were thinking of having a drinking game and drinking every time he said Barry Zito! Luckily we didn’t because we would have been hammered! It was almost like he was trying incredibly hard to NOT be a Cardinal homer in that series. But, he is a good broadcaster and better than what we’ve had…but he has lost any sentimentality that he had from being Jack’s kid.

  • macfan1967

    I thought it was compliment to the Cardinal way and yes I know they played more than 9 innings but LaRussa always preached play a hard 9 never give up I for one was frustrated at that game the way our defense played the first 6 innings and was about to just give up and go bed but for the reason that I am a Cardinal fan and Baseball fan I stayed up and watched it I even text my cousin and told him this and he felt the same way but he stayed up too, in the last innings it was a good game. In Joe’s Defense we were the underdogs and I know it has to be hard to be bias when your announcing world wide but I have even heard Mike S & John R say they are not suppose root for a team even the Cardinals and if I remember right Jack gave Joe his blessings to go work for FOX it was hard for me to see him leave permanently especially when it meant there wasn’t going to be a Buck in the booth for the first time in over 50 + years. So lets Joe give a break a lot of it has to do the networks and odds makers on the way they have to act.

  • CardsFanInDenver

    Okay, so I didn’t read this column until today (June 12) but I’m a new arrival to this site, so I’m catching up. I have to agree with the commenters who said they heard that as a compliment. I have watched that game about 30 times now (only a slight exaggeration), and my husband maybe 10 times, and neither he nor I considered that anything but a huge compliment to the Cardinals’ resilience and willingness to fight for that game even when it looked unwinnable. I don’t love Joe Buck. After all, who could match his father? But I will take Joe Buck any day over Al Hrabosky, who makes me want to throw things at my television.

  • Roger Beshears

    As much as I loved Jack, I have never been a fan of Joe. I think he went above and beyond trying not to sound like a homer and I didn’t like it either, I think he is on the same level as Al.

    • Blake Gabriel

      New to this site and just now reading this article… But I took Joe Bucks pronouncement “They just won’t go away” as the ULTIMATE compliment about what a tenacious group of gamers we had on that 2011 world series team. If you are that bent about it then you were obviously looking for a reason to crack on Joe Buck. Granted he’s not my favorite either. But he isn’t nearly as bad as Giants fans (and yourself) have made him out to be… Sorry Roger this wasn’t meant to be a reply to your post; but i’m still learning how to negotiate around this site.

      • Roger Beshears

        OK, you have your opinion as do I . My frustration with Joe and Tim McCarver for that matter, cover many years. Joe bends over backward to not show favoritism or be compared to his dad. If I am off base then I share it with thousands of baseball fans.