NEW YORK -- They were side-by-side at the MLB Fan Cave on Friday afternoon, just as they have been in FOX broadcasting booths around Major League Baseball for 17 years now.
In one more month, they will both be upstate in Cooperstown, where Tim McCarver will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as the 2012 Ford C. Frick recipient for broadcasting. Joe Buck will be there to share in the moment, hoping one day his own time will come -- as his immortal father, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, once assured him would be the case.
"I finished my speech yesterday as a matter of fact," McCarver said. "Not that I won't add to and delete and add to up to the day before. It's such an honor. To think of not only Joe's dad but Vin Scully and all of the great voices that have gone before me, I mean, it's a humbling experience, believe me. And that's not taking the overly humble route. I'm very, very proud of what I've done, I'm proud of this guy. I've loved working with Joe Buck. This is our 17th year together, and I've got an awful lot of nice things to say about Joe during that speech at Cooperstown on the 21st of July."
"I'll just jump in and say -- and I've said this to him and he gets all 'Aw shucks' on me when I say it -- that for a guy who caught as long as he did, catching at the end of the '50s, '60s, '70s into '80s, the guys he caught, the rings, the broadcast career, the overall body of work matches up and, in my mind, exceeds anybody who's been in there," Buck said. "This is a guy who has done it on the field, has been a winner and now has called all these World Series on television. It's overly due and I'm going to be thrilled and honored to be there and sharing the weekend with him."
For a generation of baseball fans now, they are the signature voice of MLB jewel events. They are back in New York to work another Subway Series, this time Yankees at Mets on Saturday night, amidst an unprecedented streak of eight consecutive "Baseball Night in America" primetime games on FOX. Then it will be the 83rd All-Star Game on July 10 in Kansas City.
Then to Cooperstown.
Buck will see his late father represented there again, while there for his partner's big day. It was 10 years ago this past week -- June 18, 2002 -- that baseball lost an institution, the glorious voice of the Cardinals who also was a fixture on national baseball and football broadcasts, like his son.
It is a much different world these days, and critics are willing to make their opinions heard. Everyone has a voice, with the power of social media. It is the nature of the beast, especially with the typical fan reliant on their own home-team broadcast voice. But they are now an institution, and it is easy to envision a second Buck in the broadcaster wing to join his father one day.
Joe Buck said he wonders about that himself.
"My dad, when he finished his speech, he [was inducted] in 1987 when I was a senior in high school, and if you go back and look at the footage, I'm there with a seersucker blazer and I have a gigantic head and a full head of hair," Buck said. "He came up and he said, 'One day you're gonna be here with me.' If I'm lucky enough to last long enough to be on the list, then that's great. If not, then I'll just float off into the ether and I'll just be happy that my dad's in there."
The final week of online-only balloting for the All-Star Game is now under way with the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot. The two broadcasters said they expect to see a continuation of ample turnover in the Midsummer Classic, as the national pastime forever changes.
"We could have our first knuckleballer starting an All-Star Game in R.A. Dickey, who has been absolutely unhittable," Buck said. "Along with Bryce Harper, you have Mike Trout, who has made such a huge difference for the Angels. In Florida, you have Giancarlo Stanton. It seems to me there's kind of a changing of the guard, and a lot of these big, young athletes and ball players are coming up. So to me that's kind of the direction I see us going at this point."
Both of them feel that Harper, the Nationals' rookie outfielder, "must" be in the game, in some way.
"Of course we don't know the players yet, but we've got a pretty good idea," McCarver said. "Joe and I both did a Nationals game a couple weeks ago and we both agree that somehow, someway, Bryce Harper has to be in this ballgame. I speak a lot about some of the young stars in the game, and a guy like Bryce Harper is deserving of being in that game. He just slid below .300 last week, but he is for real."
MLB attendance has been dazzling so far, a pace that could lead to a single-season record. What has been the biggest generator for the big numbers?
"When you talk about overall attendance figures, you've got a lot of markets that are excited about their teams again," Buck said. "Whether you're even talking about the Oakland A's, or the Washington Nationals, who have a legitimate chance of not only getting to the postseason but of winning their division. They're a fun team to watch. The Angels have come back around, the Mets are a team no one expected to do anything, then you have the usual suspects ... You get the Cubs going, and the numbers will really go through the roof.
"I just think it's a result of how many teams are in it, and how many marketplaces are now rejuvenated and excited about how their teams are playing. That's nothing but excitement for the game."
The pair toured the Fan Cave and chatted with the seven Cave Dwellers.
"Who knew MLB was so hip?" Buck told them. Then he said, "I'm going to pin them down before I leave and see how fast they hit the mute button when Tim and I show up.