SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Joe Buck experienced the ultimate San Francisco sporting Sunday.
The Fox Sports announcer worked a unique doubleheader, calling the late afternoon NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants and the nighttime NL championship series opener between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.
And he even made the trip from game to game in the most San Francisco way possible — on a trolley.
“It’s exciting. It’s fun,” Buck said. “But this is a footnote not the focus of the day.”
Buck left Candlestick Park at 4:32 p.m. after the Giants beat the 49ers 26-3. He arrived after the 7-mile trip at AT&T Park at 5:04 p.m. — more than 10 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.
“I’ve been looking at the clock ever since kickoff, trying to judge when the game would end,” Buck said by phone from the trolley. “It turned out to be a lopsided game and they ran out the clock at the end.”
Buck had always been slated to call the NLCS with Thom Brennaman set to call the football game with lead analyst Troy Aikman. But when the Cardinals staged their improbable ninth-inning rally to beat Washington 9-7 in Game 5 of their division series on Friday night, Buck got the chance to do the double with the NLCS opening in San Francisco instead of the nation’s capital.
“We scrambled things together in the last few days,” Buck said.
With Fox’s national doubleheader football game featuring a rematch of last year’s NFC title game also in San Francisco, Buck decided to broadcast both games.
Buck said the fact that his baseball partner, Tim McCarver, had experience doing play-by-play on local broadcasts made this possible because he could go solo at the start if need be.
“If he does a half-inning of a long series, so be it,” Buck said. “It’s fun, it’s different, it’s unique. So let’s go for it and see what happens.
McCarver said he found out Saturday night that he could be alone at the start of the baseball game. He prepared himself for the possibility and also made sure to keep track of the football game during the afternoon.
“I’ll pay more attention to the football game today prior to the first game of the NLCS more than I’ve ever paid attention to a football game before any postseason series in my career,” he said. “Play by play is not new. I just haven’t done it in 15 years. It’s been a while.”
McCarver was alone for the pregame show, but Buck made it to the booth for the start of the game.