Saturday, November 26, 2016

Joe Buck's Memoir "Lucky Bastard"

Joe Buck has been a fixture in sports broadcasting for most of my adult life. I heard about Lucky Bastard from various sports media and via Buck's guest appearance on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.
The full title of the book is Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I'm Not Allowed to Say on TV. That's a pretty good sample of the writing style: slightly profane and irreverent, but honest. Within the first chapter he's explained that using the word "bastard" is technically true as well as being an eye-catching title - he was conceived well before his parents married - and shared a slew of his own embarrassing life moments. It feels very real and open to me, and the same is true when he moves on to talking about other people.

I'm a sports fan, particularly baseball, so I found plenty of interest in the many stories and descriptions of the people that Buck has met and events he's worked. As the son of a Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, Joe has even more of those stories than most life-long sports personalities. He literally grew up in baseball stadiums, and has been part of big events like the World Series for years. I enjoyed his perspective on the people and events that I remember following as I've grown up.

Even more than the sports stories, though, I thought that Lucky Bastard is excellent for its portrayal of Buck's personal life story. The father-son relationship between Jack and Joe is a large part of that story, and I thought the love there was very evident. Buck isn't afraid to admit that he's made plenty of mistakes, either, both at the personal and professional level. His descriptions of both the good and bad times feel very real to me.

I have no reservations recommending Lucky Bastard to any sports fan, certainly, but I think even those with only a general knowledge of the last few decades of sports events would enjoy it. Buck has an engaging writing style and an interesting life story to tell.

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