The late Jack Buck had seen it all and done it all... Super Bowls, top-shelf baseball, even hockey- yes, he sat in with another announcing legend, in the late St. Louis Blues announcer Dan Kelly, a couple of games. He started his career in an outdoor booth at St. Louis Sportsman's Park with Harry Caray (both shirtless-- let a broadcaster TRY to get away with THAT today...), and ended up calling Cardinal games to the day he died. He made a great call on Ozzie Smith's home run... "Go crazy folks, go crazy!" But the greatest call Jack Buck had was not in a game with his beloved Cardinals; instead, it came 25 years ago today--in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
To set the stage, the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the big, bad, Bash Brother Oakland A's. The A's were the newest expected dynasty to hit the stage; but it wouldn't be Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire dominating this stage. it would be injured superstar Kirk Gibson. Gibson could barely walk, but as he showed, he could hit.
Gibson would listen to a scouting report on Dennis Eckersley. Remember, in 1989 Eckersley was a man who was Mariano Rivera before Mariano Rivera. He was "the Sandman" well before Mariano and Metallica became a word-association pair. However, Eckersley had a habit of throwing a backdoor slider on 3-2 counts. Gibson remembered that, and took one good swing. The swing sent a home run ball soaring into the Chavez Ravine night, and the Dodgers won the game, 5 to 4... and in Jack Buck's greatest ever call, he said in exasperation.... "I don't believe...what I just SAW!!" Neither did we. As network commentator-- and longtime Dodger broadcaster-- Vin Scully commented, "The only question now is can (Gibson) make it around the bases unassisted!" It was unreal-- and surreal, and I missed it. I was delivering a pizza when the home run happened. I was listening to the game on the radio, and missed it. But many of you did not miss it that fateful Saturday night...when Kirk Gibson moved from star to superstar-- and the baseball world could not believe what it just saw-- and still can't believe it, 25 years later.
That's my take-- I'm Tom Lee.