Title: Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV
Author: Joe Buck
Hardcover: 304 pages
“We will see you tomorrow night!” – Jack Buck 1991 & Joe Buck 2011
Lucky Bastard Book Summary/Review
Go behind the scenes with the broadcaster who does the world’s most watched sporting events live on television and see why he really is a Lucky Bastard.
As you quickly learn, this book is written in a self-deprecating type of fashion, which makes it fun to read. Early in the book, and elaborated on later in the book, Buck goes in to great detail into why he is an IDIOT. Idiot…really? Yes! Do I have the Joe Buck haters’ attention now? He outlines how and why he became addicted to getting hair plugs because for whatever reason, he believed that people only saw his hair. In reality, which is explained later in the book, he describes that this may just be the only thing HE thinks of. Joe does a wonderful job making a seemingly stupid topic, funny and enjoyable to read.
Joe opens up to the reader very quickly with his first funny story. He explains that having big bladder is something that a professional broadcaster must have. Well, even the best have situations that come up. Jack doing a football game just couldn’t hold it and was starting to realize he wasn’t going to be able to make it to the press box bathroom. At each commercial break Joe would ask the producer how long the break would be. To his dismay, each break was only 30 seconds long.
During one of those short 30-second commercial breaks, believe it or not, Joe actually picked up the trash can in the broadcasting booth and started peeing in it. Live on the air, a professional broadcaster peeing in a trashcan. As funny as this may be, I think that every human has a somewhat relatable story where they needed to relieve themselves so bad that it didn’t matter anymore, they did what had to be done. Maybe not to the extent of Joe’s but something close.
As a St. Louis native who is 30 years old, I think this book reads slightly easier for me since I am familiar with many of the individuals Joe Buck references in his book. I’m specifically referring to his dad, Jack Buck, former St. Louis Cardinals announcer. Joe goes into detail about his upbringing being taken to baseball games with his dad as young as three years old. Joe, being born from his dad having an affair, wasn’t necessarily welcomed by many of his half-brothers and sisters. As he got older he quickly understood why.
Joe grew up in the broadcasting booth watching and learning from his father. It wasn’t as if Jack Buck was trying to teach his son how to be a broadcaster, however, he just picked up on it since he was around it so much. When Jack was in high school he was dumped by his prom date so instead of going to prom, he went with his dad to a Cardinals game. During this game his dad actually let Joe call half an inning by himself.
Throughout the book, Joe pokes fun of himself for name dropping different athletes, celebrities, radios hosts and other high profile people. Personally, I enjoyed the name drops since it provided context to the story he was trying to tell.
Several times, Buck dropped names in stories that weren’t necessarily favorable to the other party. While I was reading I was thinking he was going to catch a lot of heat for these stories when in fact it turns out, many of those stories ended with Buck and the other person being wonderful friends to this day. One specific example was his fathers, and eventually his, broadcast partner, Tim McCarver. As a child, Joe knew that Tim didn’t like his father and Joe describes it in the book. Eventually, Tim would become a broadcast partner with Joe and they have since called games on the world’s biggest stage together and are friends to this day.
As previously mentioned, Joe explains his obsessions with his hair and hair plugs. During one procedure, things didn’t go according to plan. After the doctors were finished, Joe couldn’t speak. A broadcaster who couldn’t speak he thought. Wow, his career was over because of his need for hair plugs. What an IDIOT he thought. This section of the book really saw Joe putting himself out on a limb and showing his vulnerability. How could anyone be so stupid to ruin their career over hair! Well, this is one of those moments where we all realize even the people on TV, who have millions of people watching them, day in and day out, are human. They are just like the rest of us, they make mistakes.
…And finally, the death of his father, Jack Buck. Joe does such a wonderful job writing about his father and the events leading up to his death that I wouldn’t do it justice by writing about it here. Not that I’m a good writer at all, but you get my point.
Should you read Lucky Bastard by Joe Buck? Well, if you are a sports fan, St. Louis resident, or even if you don’t like Joe Buck the answer is a simple yes. This book is a very quick read. You quickly realize that Joe doesn’t hold anything back.