The normal press box jocularity and (somewhat) witty banter ended abruptly during last night’s game at Roger Dean Stadium when the staff learned of the passing of Buck Kinnaird.
Buck was a fixture at the ballpark, operating the scoreboard and acting as its ambassador since RDS opened more than 11 years ago. Before that he was one of the most recognizable sports personalities in Palm Beach County. A longtime sportscaster for the local NBC affiliate, at one time Buck was also the spring training public address announcer for the New York Yankees. He died in his home of heart problems.
It didn’t take any effort to like Buck. He always seemed to be in a good mood, smiling even when criticizing decisions or policies worthy of criticism. Upon meeting a new person, Buck immediately considered them a friend.
His love of sport – particularly baseball – was never challenged. Buck's father owned part of a minor league team, the Clarksburg Generals. When the Cardinals moved their High A team to Jupiter to share RDS with the Jupiter Hammerheads, Buck attended all 140 games at RDS.
There are many at RDS who were lucky enough to know Buck far longer than I did. What was truly amazing was that even in his 80s, Buck got along just as well with the 20-something interns as he did with the older media, press box workers and baseball men. The Grandfather of Roger Dean Stadium treated all warmly and with respect. He had a story for every occasion.
Buck’s memorial service will be held at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday at 10 a.m. RDS would do well to rename its press box Buck’s Box at that time.
I’m not a believer in ghosts, but if they do exist, RDS would be graced to have Buck back in the ballpark – if only for a few innings.