Mark McGwire's record-breaking home run was a moment that called for reverence, simplicity, tact, and decorum, the kinds of things that the Fox television network has never been known for in its 11 1/2 -year history.
This is the outlet, after all, that gives us a glowing puck during its hockey coverage, a baseball studio analyst nicknamed "Psycho," and a football pre-game show where the participants seem bent on proving which of them can produce the most testosterone.
But when the moment came in the fourth inning last night, announcer Joe Buck rose to the challenge with a sparse, but brilliant call that will stand the test of time.
"Down the left-field line, is it enough? Gone! There it is, 62. Touch first, Mark, you are the new single-season home run king," said fTC Buck, the regular St. Louis Cardinals radio and television announcer during the season and the lead voice of Fox's baseball coverage.
And then Buck wisely kept quiet, letting the moment speak for itself. That the 29-year-old announcer, the son of Hall of Famer Jack Buck, was in such command that he could recognize the value of four minutes of silence at such a defining moment is a stirring tribute to how far Joe Buck's star has risen in his field.
Thankfully, Buck's booth partners, Tim McCarver and Bob Brenly, both refrained from needlessly silly overstatement. Again, the moment spoke for itself.
Not to be overlooked was the fabulous work of the talented Fox production crew, led by producer John Filippelli and director Bill Webb, which beautifully captured one of the most magical moments in sports broadcasting history. As McGwire made his record-breaking trot, Webb and Filippelli kept the shot on him, rather than attempt to splice in reaction shots until he had reached the plate. That was a terrific move, one of many.
Of course, Fox being Fox, the network couldn't completely leave a tender moment alone. The incessant reminders about the season premiere of "King of the Hill," as well as the clip of the animated character "Hank Hill" congratulating McGwire, were tacky and took a little of the gleam off an otherwise sparkling evening.
How it sounded
Joe Buck, Fox Sports
"Down the left-field line, is it enough? Gone! There it is, 62. Touch first, Mark, you are the new single-season home run king."
Mike Shannon, KMOX Radio
"A shot into the corner! It might make it! There it is -- 62, folks! And we have a new home run champion -- a new Sultan of Swat!"
Chip Caray, WGN-TV
"First pitch, rocket deep toward left, heeeeeee did it! He did it! He did it! He did it! He did it!"
Pat Hughes, WGN Radio
"Here's the pitch and McGwire drives one to deep left, it could be, it is a home run! Number 62 for Mark McGwire! A slice of history and a magical moment in St. Louis! A line-drive home run to left for Mark McGwire."
Pub Date: 9/09/98