We drove each other crazy sometimes. He loved the Yankees and Leafs and I hated them. I could be relentless sometimes with my teasing – he always gave me so much to work with – but he never got mad. He’d just roll his eyes and sluggishly say, “All right, move on.” I think he enjoyed that Stu came in, allowing Buzz to occasionally go on the offensive. There’s nothing he loved better than when Stu got defensive then inviting me to choose my part of the chant. He’d ask, “Steve, do you want the Deeee or the fence?”
Some of the best moments in the show came from Buzz’s slip ups and the ensuing reactions. But he never took himself too seriously or lost his ability to laugh at himself.
All I’m saying is, as well too (my favourite Buzzisms), Buzz never minded being the villain. Every good show needs one. He was our Leaf fan and he made a point to be obnoxious about it. He could have hidden his allegiances but he decided, “Where’s the fun in that? Let’s stir things up a bit.”
Knowing that, I think he’s looking down right now, surprised at the level of affection people actually had for him. This is crystal clear with the amount of kind words about Buzz that Stu, Kenny and I have received in the last 2 days. It’s been incredible. Overwhelming. Intimidating.
We just do a radio show and you sometimes lose sight of the fact that you become part of people’s daily routine, almost like family. I’ve spoken to friends who listen regularly but never actually met Buzz. I swear some of them are as shocked as I am. My friend Wayne never met Buzz and said, “I feel like throwing up right now,” when I told him the news.
Buzz left for vacation on Friday July 11th. I remember I was really tired at the end of that show. I shoved open the studio door and, with my back to him, grunted something half assed.
“Enjoy the week,” I said. Buzz grunted back, “K.”
Buzz had become a constant for me. I took for granted I’d see him when he got back, that he’d always be around. So why go to the trouble of a handshake or a proper goodbye?
Buzz checked himself into the hospital during his vacation. By the time I found out he was there and went to see him, he was basically gone, despite what the machines read. I bargained with him. I told him I’d never mock the Leafs again if he pulled through. He either didn’t hear me or wasn’t buying it.
It’s funny how I had a number of trivial things eating away at me lately. I don’t remember what they were now. The shock has snapped priorities into focus, like pressing the reset button on my world. Life may be good but it never stops being fragile. I’ve hugged my wife and kids a lot this weekend.
I hope my friend knows how many people miss him.
On Monday we'll share our on and off-air memories of Buzz. If you have a memory or sentiment you’d like to share, please do so by emailing email@example.com.