Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Joe Buck's Tough Times; Kile's Death Hit Him Harder Than His Dad's Passing; Media Views

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Joe Buck's Tough Times; Kile's Death Hit Him Harder Than His Dad's Passing; Media Views

Article excerpt

It was 10 years ago today that Darryl Kile died and Joe Buck, who just a day earlier had eulogized and buried his legendary father, says the loss of a Cardinals pitcher socked him with a tougher punch than the passing of his legendary dad.

"Whereas my dad's situation seemed more like the normal cycle a life goes through, Darryl's situation was such a tragedy that in my heart, my mind, it kind of overshadowed my father's death," recalls Buck, who has followed the career lead of his famous sportscasting father. "It was so tragic, it hit me harder than my dad's passing because we had such a long time to prepare for him - but the Kile thing was out of nowhere."

Jack Buck, who was best know for his 47 seasons in the Cardinals radio booth, had been hospitalized for more than 5 1/2 months before his passing at age 77.

It was a grueling stretch for Joe Buck. He served as family spokesman while his father went through a long series of ups and downs with his health, false hopes followed by disappointments, then when the end came he was the person who made the late-night announcement on KMOX - Jack Buck's longtime employer. He also helped organize and execute the details of not only the funeral but the public viewing of the coffin at Busch Stadium.

After the funeral and cemetery service on a Friday, Joe Buck thought he finally was going back to the business his dad had groomed him for - calling a game, a Cards-Cubs Saturday contest for Fox. It was an assignment he said his father would have insisted he not miss just because of his funeral the day before. So shortly after helping bury his dad, he headed to Chicago.

But there was no game. Kile was found dead in his hotel room that morning, so instead of going on the air to describe a ballgame, Buck's first words on the air were to announce the death of a pro athlete who was 33 - the same age as Buck then. Some of the memories of that day are foggy for him, but one thing is not: "It was the end of the weirdest week, and all I could think of was Darryl Kile's widow and kids," he said.

Many marvel at how Buck carried himself through the long ordeal. One of those is Bob Costas, whose Hall of Fame caliber sportscasting career was launched at KMOX in 1974 when Jack Buck was its sports director.

"I remember having great admiration for the way Joe Buck handled the whole week," Costas recalls. "He had just left St. Louis to go to Chicago to call the game, do the professional thing, and he's called upon to break this news to a national audience. He must have had a tremendous rush of emotions thinking about his father. He just eulogized his dad and now he has to talk about this, and the two things are connected, so he has to talk about his father's death now not just to a St. Louis audience but to a national audience. I thought the way he handled it showed a lot of grace."

This Saturday he makes about as big a turn as possible from that somber day - noted wild man Charlie Sheen is to visit Buck and partner Tim McCarver to promote his upcoming show on Fox-related channel FX. …

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