Joe Buck is one of the country’s most renowned sportscasters and he owes much of his success to the late Tim McCarver.
Thursday afternoon, news broke that McCarver had passed away at the age of 81. McCarver was a baseball lifer, synonymous with several eras of the game thanks to his 21 years as a player, followed by a legendary broadcasting career as an analyst. He was also synonymous with Joe Buck’s tenure as the voice of Major League Baseball.
As tributes poured in for McCarver on Thursday, Buck called into The Michael Kay Show to remember his former broadcast partner on Fox. Buck and McCarver were the lead MLB broadcast for Fox from 1996-2013.
Joe Buck discusses his relationship with Tim McCarver on The Michael Kay Show. “I owe him so much.” pic.twitter.com/YkR7fLTtnh
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“I learned so much from him,” Buck said. “I knew him when I was a little kid, I knew him in my teenage years, I knew him when my dad was his broadcast partner. And then there I was doing the World Series with him in the Bronx at 27 years old, knowing that I was in such good hands with the person next to me.”
McCarver played for the Cardinals while Joe Buck’s father, Jack Buck was the play-by-play voice in St. Louis. And earlier in his career as a broadcaster, McCarver worked with Jack Buck for two years at CBS, where the two announcers infamously did not get along. Despite their tense relationship in the booth, Joe Buck said his father was happy to see him paired with McCarver at Fox in 1996.
“When I was matched up with Tim, when Fox got the rights in ’96, there was nobody happier about that than my dad. And he knew that I was protected because whatever was gonna happen on that field, Tim could talk or work his way through.”
When Fox paired them together, Buck was just 27 while McCarver was 55 and well-established, having played 21 years of Major League Baseball and working as a game analyst for more than a decade. Considering their vastly different resumes, Kay asked Buck if McCarver was purposefully intimidating to establish himself as the alpha in the booth.
“That’s where I owe him so much. Because had he been that way, I might have retreated. But he wasn’t that way,” Buck said. “He was not that guy. I could make a baseball point as a 27-year-old, know-nothing kid, basically, and he would take it in, maybe argue it, maybe just accept that. And when he did that, this young guy – me – had a little more credibility than I had before I started that sentence. I owe him so much for being that way with me at a pretty fragile time in my broadcast career.”
Thanks to McCarver’s support, Buck didn’t retreat during that fragile time in his broadcast career and proceeded to become arguably the most successful play-by-play voice in the country. After lasting just two years with Jack Buck, McCarver worked 18 MLB seasons with the younger Buck, calling 16 World Series together. McCarver left Fox following the 2013 World Series and continued to work a light schedule with the St. Louis Cardinals through 2019. After opting out of the 2020 and 2021 seasons because of COVID-19 concerns, McCarver officially retired last year.