06/19/2002 10:19 pm ET
Trupiano remembers Jack Buck
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- Red Sox radio announcer Jerry Trupiano was sitting quietly in his booth a couple of hours before Wednesday night's game against the Padres when a visitor came in to ask about his mentor Jack Buck, the legendary broadcaster who passed away Tuesday.
Trupiano -- who has called Red Sox games since 1993 -- needed one word to describe what Buck meant to him.
"Everything," said Trupiano, with not even a hint of hyperbole in his voice.
Spend a few minutes talking to Trupiano about his relationship with Buck, and you quickly come to understand why it was so meaningful.
"I wouldn't be here," said Trupiano. "I wouldn't be sitting here tonight if it wasn't for him."
Any baseball fan who grew up in St. Louis, as Trupiano did, was bound to be saddened by the death of Buck, an icon in his field.
But Trupiano not only idolized Buck, he learned from him.
"He used to get me into an auxiliary press box at Busch Stadium," said Trupiano. "I used to carry around this 45-pound tape recorder and practiced doing Cardinal baseball games and Cardinal football games and he would critique them from time to time. He was just so instrumental in getting me started. He was a great individual."
Trupiano was a student at St. Louis University, as well as an aspiring broadcaster, when he fist came into contact with Buck.
"I started producing talk shows for [KMOX radio] and I produced one talk show on a Sunday with Jack Buck before we went over to the ballpark and for some reason he kind of took a liking to me. He then took me under his wing and found out what I wanted to do and helped me learn about the craft. And we became friends and we stayed in touch over the years."
Through those years, Trupiano came to realize that there was so much more to Buck than that great voice and ability to paint a picture.
"To me, he was the greatest broadcaster ever," Trupiano said. "He was even a better person. So caring, he would just go out of his way for people. He never sought publicity, he never talked about himself on the air. He was about the ballgame. He loved baseball and he loved football. He knew the strategies of the game. He painted a picture and he gave you humor with it and insight. He was just the best guy in the world to learn from."
What was the most meaningful lesson?
"He just said, 'Be yourself.' The listening audience will know if you're a phony," Trupiano said. "He kind of liked that in my tapes when something exciting would happen there would be excitement that he didn't feel was phony."
On the day after Buck's passing, as everyone recalled his greatest calls, Trupiano was left with something more personal.
"My most cherished possession is an autographed copy of his book, and in the inscription, he said, 'I always knew you would make it.'"
Trupiano isn't ashamed to admit that he might have never made it without Jack Buck.
Ian Browne, who covers the Red Sox for MLB.com, can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.