It is impossible to tell the story of the Milwaukee Brewers without Bob Uecker. Even though Ueck never put on a Brewers’ uniform during his playing days, he is arguably the franchise’s most endearing personality. The careers of great players like Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Hank Aaron, and Prince Fielder have come and gone. Yet Uecker remains.
Ueker’s Playing Career
Bob Uecker had a notoriously unsubstantial career as a catcher. Luckily for baseball fans everywhere, Ueck was gifted with a flair for comedic storytelling. He has used this gift to tell humorous stories of his glory days behind the plate. When discussing his first contract with the Milwaukee Braves, Uecker said, “I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for three-thousand dollars. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn’t have that kind of dough. But he eventually scraped it up.”
In six major league seasons, Uecker played for four teams: the Milwaukee Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, and Atlanta Braves. He hit an even .200 with 14 home runs and 74 RBI’s. With a career WAR of -1.0, Ueck did not have many career highlights. In fact, he says he had just two: “I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets.” Uecker’s playing career ended in 1967 after he hit just .150 with the Phillies and Braves.
Uecker’s Comedy Career
In 1969, Uecker was invited to do his comedy routine onstage by jazz trumpeter Al Hirt. Hirt arranged for Uecker to appear on The Tonight Show, starring Johnny Carson and Uecker became a favorite guest on the show. In fact, he appeared on the show over 100 times until Carson’s retirement in 1992. In addition to other guest appearances on late-night television, Uecker starred in the hit series Mr. Belvedere. He also hosted Bob Uecker’s Wacky World of Sports and Bob Uecker’s War of the Stars. Perhaps, though, Uecker is more widely known for his portrayal of Harry Doyle in Major League and Major League II. In addition, he appeared in many commercials for Miller Lite, which helped spread his fame across the country.
Uecker and the Brewers
The Brewers hired Bob Uecker as their radio broadcaster in 1971. During that time, Uecker has called the most famous plays in Brewers’ history: Yount’s 3,000th hit, Juan Nieves’s no-hitter, and the ’82 ALCS title, just to name a few. In addition, his home run call of “Get up, get up, get outta here, gone!” has become one of the most famous home run calls in baseball broadcasting history. Uecker has been with the Brewers through many losing seasons, but has remained a constant stalwart in the booth.
Uecker has been an important part of the organization, even to the players. He is often found in the clubhouse, mingling with the players and chatting about baseball. In fact, he has meant so much to the players that when the players divided up the team’s postseason share, they insisted that Uecker be given an equal portion of the team’s cut. Uecker donated his portion to charity.
Recognition for Uecker
Wherever you go in Miller Park (soon to be American Family Field), you will be able see or hear Bob Uecker. In acknowledgment of his contributions to the club, Uecker has been honored with statues outside of the stadium and in the famous “Uecker Seats.” As fans walk the concourses, they can hear Uecker’s broadcast of the games. All of this points to his impact on the team and on Milwaukee as a whole.
In addition to local honors, Uecker is a nationally honored broadcaster. In 2003, Uecker was awarded the Ford C. Frick Award, which also cemented his place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Two years earlier, in 2001, Uecker was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was he was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. The following year, he was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Additionally, his work hosting WrestleMania III and WrestleMania IV earned him induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.
The Legacy of Bob Uecker
Bob Uecker will forever be remembered as the Voice of the Brewers. However, Uecker will also be remembered as a very charitable person. He has done a lot of work raising funds for cancer research. In fact, his dedication to this earned him the Lombardi Foundation’s Award of Excellence in 2015. He has also contributed to the Milwaukee Symphony, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, Wounded Warriors, and many other organizations.
There is not enough that can be said in honor of Bob Uecker and what he has meant to the Brewers, Milwaukee, and the state of Wisconsin. What can be said, though, is that he is forever a Brewer and will always be the voice best associated with the Brewers.
More Brewers Past and Present
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