Johnathan R. Buck is a former American professional baseball player. At the time he announced his retirement in March 2015, he had spent spring training with the Atlanta Braves, but knew he would not make it onto the team’s opening day roster.
Buck was born on July 7, 1980, in Kemmerer, Wyoming. As an athlete in high school in Utah, Buck had his eye on playing football professionally. During his senior year, he received recruiting letters for football and baseball. His uncle Dave Burke, a former Nebraska cornerback, and cousin Jason Buck, a former Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins defensive end—who both suffered career-ending injuries—told him to pursue baseball. He recalls, “They both said, ‘You’re going to play baseball. If that doesn’t work out, you can walk-on anywhere and play football.”
Buck was drafted by the Houston Astros in the seventh round of the amateur draft in 1998 and signed a minor-league contract. He became well regarded for his defensive ability and one of the top catchers of the league. The Astros traded him in 2004 to the Kansas City Royals, where he was immediately put in the starting lineup. Now in the majors, his batting average continued to improve.
In December 2009, Buck signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. The year 2010 was a career-high for Buck. He hit three home runs in a game against the Oakland Athletics and became an American League All-Star. He finished the season with career-highs in batting average (.281), hits (115), home runs (20), RBI (66), doubles (25), and slugging percentage (.489).
He signed a three-year contract with the Florida Marlins in November 2010 and was traded in November 2012 to the Toronto Blue Jays. One month later he was traded to the New York Mets where he began the 2013 season as starting catcher. He took paternity leave in August 2013 when his third son was born. Upon his return, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and in January 2014, he signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners. Six months later the Mariners put him out for assignment. He then became a free agent. Buck signed a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Angels in July 2014. He was assigned to the Salt Lake Bees, a Triple-A league team. Buck rejected the assignment and became a free agent. In January 2015, he agreed to a minor-league contract with the Atlanta Braves, hoping to become backup catcher. He announced his retirement on March 26. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Buck traveled with the Marlins to visit the U.S. military in 2011. He also made headlines for helping to rescue two elderly women who had become trapped in an overturned car.
Buck and his wife, Brooke, are the parents of three sons, including twins. Buck is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.