Joe Buck is well aware that the experience of calling Saturday night’s Nationals-Yankees game on Fox will be unlike anything he’s ever done in his professional life. But he, like everyone else, is looking forward to it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to go back to work than I am now,” Buck said. “I recognize that not everybody’s a sports fan, but I think the most important thing I’ve learned during this time is what a unifier sports can be. No matter where you sit on the political spectrum there’s just been so much negativity throughout this pandemic. Maybe this can be one small step toward normalcy. I do recognize also that this will look and sound different, but it’s baseball, and I think we’re all happy about that.”
Joe Buck at the Super Bowl. (Photo: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports)
The setup for the broadcast will be different in itself. The game, of course, will be taking place in Washington. Buck himself, who has been spending time with family in Aspen during the shutdown, will be calling the game from a studio in Denver. His partner, John Smoltz, will be in another studio in New Jersey, while their producer will be in a completely different control room in Los Angeles.
“That’s just our reality right now,” Buck said. “It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s a welcome return to action.”
It’s been an unusually long layoff for Buck, who will be calling his first live pro game since the Super Bowl. But he has enjoyed lending his voice to those fan videos that gained wide circulation back in March and April. The ones involving dogs and kids have proved especially popular.
“I think people are just proud of their dogs and their kids,” Buck said. “It’s kind of funny to look back at some of these and see that they have three or four million views. None of these are going to go into any broadcast museums, but they’re just fun videos that make people smile.”
Buck will be continuing with fan videos, but he’s also had the unique experience of being able to critique his own work with live sports on hiatus.
“I’ve been watching a lot of MLB Network and NFL Network, so I’ve been able to get almost a retrospective of my career,” he mused. “It’s been kind of fun watching from my couch after time has passed rather than looking at what we did right after leaving the booth.”
Since those every-day videos have been so well-received, Buck is teaming up with Michelob Ultra to narrate other at-home sports challenges. Fans can submit their videos with the hashtag #ULTRABuckCalls through Aug. 1, and he’ll choose four of his favorites to voice.
“The ones that really catch my attention are the ones where people are genuinely having fun,” Buck advised. “Just seeing the look on people’s faces when they make some kind of crazy shot or pull off a move in their backyard or at the lake or wherever, it’s just pure joy. That’s no small thing.”
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