Review of Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV Written by Joe Buck
I’ve lived in St. Louis for most of the 80s and 90s. To me and many others, the voices of Jack Buck and Mike Shannon were synonymous with summer. I was there when Joe Buck started his career. I was one of those complaining that Joe only got the job because of his father. But as Joe writes in his book, name recognition will only get you so far. You still have to deliver.
I’ve been impressed with Joe’s ability to handle major sporting events with such ease. His behind the scenes take on how he has gotten to this level is an entertaining read. I especially enjoyed his humor. I laughed out loud throughout this book.
One particular pregame skit, which wasn’t in the book but has stayed with me nonetheless, involved Joe and his football partner Troy Aikman. Troy and Joe are getting ready to go on air. A group of people attends to Troy: fixing his hair, brushing his suit coat, applying makeup. Joe is shown standing all alone. “Can I get a bottle of water,” Joe asks someone off screen. A water bottle comes flying into the shot and hits Joe in the chest. It’s that kind of self-deprecating humor that permeates this book. Here are just a few examples: Joe talks about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with his daughter and how he wasn’t the outdoors type. “If you see me going for a hike, I am probably looking for my golf ball.” In the same section, he talks about how the trip to Africa will keep him away from his future wife for two weeks. “A two-week trip does not sound long, I think we’ve had commercial breaks during the Super Bowl that lasted that long.” Joe also knows how to tell a funny story. He talks about interviewing a couple of Seattle defensive players before the Superbowl with Denver. Joe said he had a sense that things were not going to go Denver’s way. At one point one of the players said, “We don’t care what Peyton Manning does at the line of scrimmage. He can say ‘Omaha’ five hundred times. We’re not moving.” I can hear Peyton yelling “Omaha” right now in that lopsided loss.
Joe also gives some insight into what it’s like to be a sports announcer in today’s politically correct climate. He describes how his fear of backlash on social media had affected his on-air performance, always careful not to make a comment that might stir up a controversy.
If you have watched any major sporting event over the last fifteen-plus years, you have listened to Joe Buck. He is one of the best at what he does. I do think, however, that the US Open should be left to the golf analysts who cover the game week in and week out.