Joe Buck, the longtime voice of Fox Sports, is bolting for the greener pastures of ESPN, signing a lucrative five-year deal in the $60-$75 million range, according to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.
Buck has been the voice of the World Series for since the turn of the millennium, calling every World Series game going back to the Subway Series of 2000. They’ve all had the soundtrack of Joe Buck. His candor is indistinguishably tied to baseball’s biggest showcase. Multiple generations of baseball fans don’t know anything different. He called his first World Series in 1996 and worked for Fox Sports for nearly 30 years. With Fox, Buck had one-year at $11 million remaining on his contract and the network let him out the deal prematurely, per the New York Post.
Buck has also been Fox’s top NFL commentator as well, as the network will be tasked with replacing its top football, baseball and golf play-by-play commentator.
Buck is expected to become the voice of Monday Night Football for ESPN, reuniting with longtime colleague and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. Aikman got the ball rolling late last month when he reportedly agreed to a five-year, $92.5 million.
Who steps up in Bucks’ place? While Fox could try and gain a huge broadcasting name to counter losing one of the industry’s giants, it has a phenomenal option already in house in Gus Johnson, who helped also helped with the network’s soccer coverage when it had primary rights to the UEFA Champions League and USMNT’s games over the last decade.
Johnson and Joel Klatt currently make up Fox’s No. 1 college football commentary team and although Klatt wouldn’t have experience calling anything other than football, his chemistry with Johnson is truly undeniable. For my money, they’re the best team calling the action on Saturdays, making Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff truly special.
Fox already has a deep roster of baseball commentators if Klatt doesn’t want to try his hand at baseball, with Tom Verducci being a good selection to accompany Johnson should he be the choice. Kevin Burkhardt or Adam Amin would also be good choices to get their first World Series play-by-play gig with the network should a switch to Johnson not be made.
Buck’s departure from Fox to a competitor comes at an interesting time. As an avid fan of one of Fox’s most popular shows, The Masked Singer, my first-impression guess for who is under the costume “Ram” was Buck from Wednesday’s season premier. Whatever unknown celebrity made it past their first performance of “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick. Buck’s obviously not a trained singer, despite a polished speaking voice. The clues fit and the voice fits him. Buck can say he lasted longer in the singing competition than pastry chef Duff Goldman, if that’s him.
Buck moving to ESPN puts him on bigger regular-season football assignments, without competition for most games, although he’s handing the mic to someone else for the biggest baseball assignment around. Getting paid more to do the same style of job and likely freeing up his schedule more, as he’s also expected to contribute to ESPN+ projects instead of calling other sports, is a win for Buck in every sense.
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