Joe Buck lost his voice in 2011. The well-known broadcaster told almost everyone, including his employers at Fox Sports, he had a virus, and most people still believe that was the case.
In advance of his upcoming memoir, Buck revealed to Sports Illustrated on Wednesday the real reason for the condition that could have cost him his career.
"People would ask, 'Why is your vocal cord paralyzed?' I said it was a virus. I didn't say it was an elective procedure to add hair to the front of my head," Buck said. "It was embarrassing. There's an embarrassing element to that. Any surgery done to improve one's looks is not really something someone wants to talk about."
In his book, Buck, 47, writes that he got his first such procedure in 1993 and after that, "I, Joseph Francis Buck, became a hair-plug addict."
He told SI: "There are a lot of people across the country, for as silly as this sounds, who obsess about hair loss. I would tell myself I needed to look younger, I needed to have thicker hair, I don't want to look older than I am. The truth of it is that it was an ego thing, whether I was on TV or not."
Just before the 2011 baseball season, Buck woke up from his eighth hair-transplant procedure unable to speak. His theory is a cuff that was used to protect him during the procedure somehow ended up paralyzing his vocal cord.
But he told almost everyone he had a virus. "I was lying," Buck said. "I think people bend the truth all the time, unfortunately. It was really for self-preservation and ego for me."
Although his voice wasn't the same, Fox allowed the longtime announcer to work during baseball season. Buck received months of treatment and says he didn't feel he was at full strength until Game 6 of the World Series that year.
Buck hasn't had hair-plug treatments since then, but he hasn't ruled out future procedures.
"I'm 47 years old now and willing to be vulnerable sharing a story," he said. "Whether the book is read by one person or 1 million doesn't concern me. Getting this out and being honest, really telling my story, that was the impetus behind this."