Meet Joe Buck. His dad, Hall of Fame baseball and football broadcaster Jack Buck, you already know. His mother, Carol, who in her bachelorette days portrayed sexpot secretary Hedy LaRue on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Dying, you may not. "She had an acting class with Al Pacino," says her son, "who used to hit on her, with no luck. Some eye for talent, my mom."
Joe Buck is only 31. On Saturday he will begin calling his third World Series, with partner Tim McCarver, for Fox. With his network having just purchased the exclusive rights to postseason games through 2006, Buck is poised to become the game's preeminent voice. You may consider him the mere legacy of his father, 76, who has been a Cardinals broadcaster since 1954. You may wonder whether it was an eye for talent that led Fox four Octobers ago to make him the youngest announcer to call a Series since Vin Scully did so in 1955 at age 25. You may wonder whether Joe Buck has succeeded without really trying. "I'm a member of broadcasting's Lucky Sperm Club," admits Buck, citing other play-by-play family dynasties such as the Alberts and Carays, "and I'd be the first to agree that it got me in the door."
However, Buck's professional bona fides are genuine. Born in St. Petersburg during Cardinals spring training, Buck had visited every big league park by age 13. As an adolescent he would accompany his father to Busch Stadium, sit in a vacant booth and call games into a tape recorder. "My dad and I would listen to my version as we drove home," says Buck, "and he would offer me pointers."
As down-to-earth as home plate, Buck launched his career in 1989 while an undergraduate at Indiana. His first assignment was doing play-by-play at Triple A Louisville, men a Cardinals affiliate. Two years later he graduated to the parent club, joining his dad. Fox hired him for its NFL coverage in 1994, and two years after that he was calling his—and Fox's—first World Series, Braves versus Yankees.
As a senior at St. Louis Country Day, Buck, a righthander, tossed a no-hitter. "I was a decent pitcher," he says. "The truth is, I always wanted to be a player." Wanted to be? Joe Buck has a standing date with the Fall Classic for the next six years. On the major league stage, he is a player.