“I hear, ‘Hello, John, happy 70th birthday. This is Joe Biden,’” Buczek said. “I had this little pause, like, ‘Is this real?’ But I’m watching him on TV. I said, ‘Well, thank you, Mr. President.’” At that moment, President Biden was in the Democrats’ dugout at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Appearing on live TV, Biden held a cellphone to his right ear. Buczek’s son, Andrew J. Buczke, is a government policy advisor for national law firm Dykema Gossett. He was in the dugout with Biden during the game and mentioned to the president that his dad’s birthday was the next day.
As Democrats and Republicans played ball for charity the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 29, Buczek received a surprising phone call during the top of the second inning with U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, at the plate.
“Joe Biden looks at him and says, ‘You got his number?’” John Buczek said. “We talked for about four minutes. He told me stories about Satchel Paige coming to the majors.” President Joe Biden talks on the phone as he attends the Congressional baseball game at Nationals Park Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in Washington, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., watches the game. The annual baseball game between Congressional Republicans and Democrats raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) APAP
“He said, ‘I have a lot of respect for police officers and appreciate what you do,’” Buczek said. “He says, ‘You know, when I was growing up in my neighborhood, you either became a priest, a cop, or a fireman and I wasn’t any of those.’ I said, ‘Well, I think you did pretty good for yourself.’”
Buczek told the president they had spoken once before, when Biden was a senator and Buczek worked for the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police.
Media outlets covering the game snapped photos of Biden holding the phone to his ear, with Andrew Buczek and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on either side of him.
John Buczek, a retired Bay City police officer who received a call from President Joe Biden wishing him a happy 70th birthday.“It was really cool,” Buczek said. “He was very nice, really down to earth. I don’t care your politics, whether you like the guy or don’t like the guy. I was super impressed he took four minutes to call an old, retired cop in Bay City and wish me a happy birthday. It made me a real fan.”
He spent the next 13 years as the executive director of the Michigan FOP, during which he spoke with sitting presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Getting a social call from a president had a different feel than discussing legislative matters with one, though. “It was a very unique experience,” Buczek said. “I was shocked at first, and then really honored that he would do that, just right off the cuff like that. What he did was a really nice thing to do. He’s a busy man and to take that time to call me, I was really honored.