06/19/2002 4:58 pm ET
Fans pay tribute to Buck
By Jared Hoffman / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- When Jack Buck's wife, Carol, once asked her husband what he would say when he goes to heaven and meets the Lord, Buck replied, "I would ask him, 'Why have you been so good to me?' "
On the morning after Buck's death, many baseball fans are left remembering that the legendary Cardinals announcer had been so good to them.
Just hours after his death late Tuesday, a statue that had been dedicated to Buck during the 1998 season had become a shrine in his honor. Fans came to place flowers, teddy bears, balloons, cards, posters, Cardinals memorabilia and personal notes at its base. The memorial site will stay lit 24 hours a day for an indefinite amount of time.
"There were two things in St. Louis I thought would be here forever -- the Gateway Arch and Jack Buck doing Cardinals games," said Brady Brown, a Cards fan. "He was the father figure of our whole community. He was Mr. St. Louis and he cared about everyone. We'll always keep him in our hearts."
The games will go on, but many fans talked about how they will never be quite the same.
"There were times I would rather listen to the game on KMOX and turn down the TV because the mental images he could paint were better than watching the game," said David Whitehead. "He was a truly standup announcer and he'll be greatly missed."
Many fans also discussed how Buck was much more than just a broadcaster. After close to 50 years in St. Louis, he is remembered as much for his involvement in the community and how he made every person he met feel special.
"He cared about everybody," said fan Tony Merkle. "To him, there wasn't color or religion -- it was just people. I think that is what brought him so close to everybody.
"He was what made Cardinals baseball so fun to listen to. He was the voice of St. Louis, the voice of the Cardinals, the voice of the fans. After every game, whether it was a Cardinals win or loss, he always had wise words. Just the sound of his voice -- if you were having problems, it was comforting to you."
Julie Polle wasn't born in St. Louis, but quickly grew to love Buck and the Cardinals. "I'm a big Cardinals fan, and I've admired Jack as long as I've lived in St. Louis, which is almost 30 years," she said. "I'm going to miss hearing his voice and everything he added to the games."
Many who visited the memorial site at Busch Stadium put some of their thoughts into words for all to see:
"Go crazy, heaven! Go crazy. You have a great man and a great broadcaster!"
"The St. Louis Golden Rule: Treat others as Jack Buck would treat you!"
"Jack: You made us all feel like winners!"
"Jack: You were a great broadcaster but an even better man."
Fans will get another chance to pay their respects to Buck on Thursday morning at Busch Stadium. There will be a public viewing of the casket from 7 to 11:30 a.m., and people may enter Busch Stadium through the wagon gate located on Spruce St. All gates at Busch Stadium will then open at 11 a.m. for those wishing to attend a memorial service that will begin at 12:30 p.m.
A private memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday at Twins Oaks Presbyterian Church in Ballwin, Mo. That will be followed by a private burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
To honor Buck, the Cardinals will wear a black armband with the initials, "J.F.B." -- John Francis Buck -- on the right sleeve of their uniforms.
Jared Hoffman is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.