By Ed Sherman
CHICAGO - When Jack Buck was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, he looked out into the crowd at Cooperstown and introduced all eight of his children, including his son Joe.
"Joe wants to be an announcer some day," his father said.
Joe Buck was 18 at the time.
"The next year I was doing the games at Louisville," he said. "
`Some day' happened pretty quick."
Beginning Saturday, Buck, 37, will call his ninth World Series for Fox Sports. At this rate the son is well on his way to joining his father in Cooperstown.
But it's different. Even though he still works a few Cardinals games, Joe Buck is known as a national guy, a TV guy. Jack Buck worked a lot of national games on television, but he'll always be known as a Cardinals guy, a radio guy.
Pat Hughes is attempting to capture the essence of Jack Buck's era with his new DVDs "Baseball Voices: the Hall of Fame Series." Hughes, the Cubs' radio play-by-play voice, chose two naturals as his first subjects: Jack Buck and Harry Caray.
The hour-long DVDs feature Hughes telling the story of their lives and what made them so great. And there are plenty of highlights from the Hall of Fame announcers.
Hughes unearthed some gems, such as Buck's call of the first goal in St. Louis Blues history. Caray's call of the Ryne Sandberg game in 1984 is as thrilling now as it was then.
Hughes says the package is "a big stew" of his favorite things about two announcers who influenced his career.
"I've listened to other tributes, but there's never been one done by a big-league announcer who knows what it's like to make a call and can appreciate their longevity," Hughes said.
Hughes' next subject is Marty Brennaman, the Hall of Fame voice of the Cincinnati Reds. Down the road, he plans on doing Ernie Harwell.
With Detroit in the World Series, there will be plenty of talk about Harwell. At 88 he is still going strong, holding on to his title as the world's nicest man.
Harwell spent 42 years with the Tigers. Buck started announcing Cardinals games in 1954. Caray is identified with three teams: the Cardinals, the White Sox and the Cubs, with a forgettable year doing Oakland A's games thrown in between St. Louis and Chicago.
Generations heard their distinctive calls coming over loud and clear on the radio. They were the fans' connection to the teams. "Ernie Harwell was as synonymous with the Tigers as Al Kaline, and my father was as synonymous with the Cardinals as Stan Musial," Joe Buck said.
Those special relationships aren't likely to develop again. Buck noted that announcers seem to bounce around more these days. "The lure of television is hard to resist," Buck said, acknowledging that he couldn't resist.
It's even different for announcers who stay for the long haul. John Rooney was with the White Sox for 18 years, and Hughes just completed his 11th year with the Cubs.
This isn't meant as a knock on those announcers, but we live in an era in which access to information about your favorite team is anywhere and everywhere. The radio voice isn't the only source anymore.
What comes out in Hughes' DVD is a sense that Caray and Buck were unique talents who lived in a unique time. It is wonderfully illustrated in a terrific clip featuring Caray in 1964.
The Cardinals, locked in a tight race with Philadelphia and Cincinnati, had won earlier that night. Caray, though, stayed on the air past midnight to keep fans updated on the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game that went into extra innings.
In today's age, ESPN probably would have special coverage, and fans could follow every pitch on the Internet. Back then, the technology was Caray talking on the phone to the Pirates' No. 2 radio man, who spoke in hushed tones because he wasn't on the air. Caray hung on every word, and when the Pirates won in the 16th inning, he let out a Jack Brickhouse-like "Hey-Hey."
If you like living in the past, as I do, you'll enjoy Hughes' DVDs. For more information, go to www.baseballvoices.com.