Back in 2011, just weeks before the start of the MLB season, Joe Buck started suffering from an ailment that paralyzed his left vocal cord. That's something that wouldn't be good for anybody, but it was especially bad for Buck, who makes his living broadcasting sports. At the time, Buck said that the cause of his vocal cord injury was a virus that had developed in it, but on Thursday morning, Buck revealed what really happened. According to Sports Illustrated, Buck's vocal cord was left paralyzed as a result of a botched hair plug transplant.
Buck talks about what happened in 2011 in his new memoir, Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, And The Things I'm Not Allowed To Say On TV. In his book, he says he became a "hair plug addict" after going in for his first treatment at the age of 24 in 1993. He started getting treatments whenever he had a break in his schedule and, before long, he was addicted to them. "Broadcasting is a brutal, often unfair business, where looks are valued more than skill," he writes. "I was worried that if I lost my hair, I would lose my job. O.K., that's bullshit. It was vanity. Pure vanity. I just told myself I was doing it for TV."
Buck's faulty 2011 transplant was the eighth one he had done, and he believes it was caused by a cuff used by a surgery center to protect him during the six-hour transplant procedure. Worse yet, there was no immediate timetable for when his voice would return, and he was so humiliated by the incident that he was forced to lie to everyone about how it happened. "This is a nerve issue," he told the New York Times at the time. "It's not like I have polyps or a strained vocal cord. I'm waiting for one of the longest nerves in the body to recover."
Buck says the only people who knew the truth were his family and friends—and his broadcasting partner Troy Aikman.
Eventually, Buck went to a guy named Dr. Steven Zeitels, whose impressive résumé includes serving as a professor of laryngeal surgery at Harvard Medical School and heading up the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation. Zeitels had previously worked with big names like Bono, Adele, Roger Daltrey, and even Dick Vitale. And by the end of the 2011 World Series, Buck says he finally started to feel like himself again.
Buck hasn't had any hair transplants since 2011, but he also hasn't ruled out having them again in the future. You can hear what else he had to say about them here. Buck's book will be available on Nov. 15.