Joe Buck’s Career Was Nearly Ruined by This Weird Addiction

Joe Buck is arguably the preeminent sportscaster of the last quarter-century. He has long been Fox’s lead announcer on its NFL and MLB coverage and in recent years has added major USGA golf tournaments to his plate. He has called numerous Super Bowls and World Series since joining Fox in 1994, but it all almost came crashing down for him eight years ago. In 2011, Buck — the son of legendary broadcaster Jack Buck — almost had his career end because of a weird addiction that he has — hair-plugs. Here is the story of Joe Buck and his hair-plug addiction.

Why did Joe Buck want hair-plugs?

A hair-plug is perhaps better known as a hair transplant. It is a surgical procedure in which healthy hair is taken from a thicker patch of hair on someone’s scalp, called a donor site, and moved to a part of the head that is balding.

In his 2016 memoir, Buck discussed his addiction to hair-plugs. He has said that looks are often more valued in a broadcaster than skill. Because he feared hair loss from a young age, Buck felt that he needed to do something about it.

He started undergoing hair-plug procedures in 1993 and had a series of them performed over a period of nearly two years. But it was his eighth procedure in 2011 that almost ended Buck’s broadcasting career. 

How hair-plug addiction almost ended Joe Buck’s career

During that 2011 procedure, something went wrong and he woke up unable to speak. Buck thinks a protective cuff used during the hair surgery paralyze his vocal cord, leaving him without the ability to talk. At the time, a voice specialist said there was no guarantee Buck would ever get his voice back — jeopardizing his career.

He missed some assignments while recovering and publicly gave the excuse that he had a virus, as he was “too scared and embarrassed” to reveal the true cause of his voice issues stemmed from an elective procedure he had to try to look younger.

He would return to his work with Fox later in 2011, and he admits he probably returned earlier than he should have due to the equity he had built up at the company and the relationship he had with his bosses at Fox Sports. Buck has not had another hair-plug procedure since that fateful one in 2011, but he says he is open to the possibility of having more in the future.

Recovery from his voice issues–Q

In his book, Buck — who reportedly makes $6 million a year — wrote about taking Lexapro to relieve the anxiety has was feeling from having the issues with his vocal cord.

He was referred to Dr. Steven Zeitels, a professor of laryngeal surgery at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Zeitels injected Buck with a long needle that filled his vocal cord with Restylane, a filler-like substance that is most commonly used for lip enhancement.

He returned to the doctor for additional shots every three months. Dr. Zeitels told Buck the more he used his vocal cords, the more they would swell from usage, and the better he would sound. His voice got a little better by August and September of 2011, when he returned to the air, but it wasn’t until he called the World Series that October that Buck felt like his old self.

But Buck’s concern for his voice didn’t end there. All these years later, the 50-year-old continues to think about the strength of his voice before working a game. He has lightened his workload in recent years, cutting back on the number of baseball games he calls. He now only works a few regular-season games, one League Championship Series, and the World Series.