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Bob Uecker
Catcher
Born: January 26, 1935 (1935-01-26) (age 75)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 13, 1962 for the Milwaukee Braves
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1967 for the Atlanta Braves
Career statistics
Batting Average     .200
Home Runs     14
RBI     74
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Robert George "Bob" Uecker (pronounced /ˈjuːkər/ (homophone of the card game called Euchre); born January 26, 1935) is an American former Major League Baseball player, later a sportscaster, comedian and actor. Uecker was given the title of "Mr. Baseball" by Johnny Carson.

Contents

Playing career

Though he sometimes joked he was born on a colored oleo run to Illinois, Uecker was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He grew up watching the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers at Borchert Field. He signed a professional contract with his hometown Milwaukee Braves in 1956 and made his major league debut as a catcher with the club in 1962. A mediocre hitter, he finished with a career batting average of .200. He was a sound defensive player and committed very few errors in his Major League career as a catcher, completing his career with a fielding percentage of .981. Uecker also played for the St. Louis Cardinals (and was a member of the 1964 World Champion club) and Philadelphia Phillies before returning to the Braves, who had by then moved to Atlanta. His six-year major league career concluded in 1967.

Broadcasting career

After retiring as a player, Uecker returned to Milwaukee. In 1971, he began calling play-by-play for the Milwaukee Brewers radio broadcasts, a position he holds to this day. He also served as one of the first color commentators on network television broadcasts in the 1970s (for ABC's Monday Night Baseball) and 1990s (for NBC as he teamed with Bob Costas and Joe Morgan for telecasts). During that time, he was a commentator for League Championship Series and the World Series.

Uecker now works as the Milwaukee Brewers' play-by-play announcer. Games are broadcast on the Brewers Radio Network throughout Wisconsin. The flagship is WTMJ 620 Milwaukee.

Humor

Known for his humor, particularly about his undistinguished playing career, Uecker actually became much better known after he retired from playing. He made 64 guest appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, and appeared in a number of humorous commercials, most notably for Miller Lite beer, as one of the "Miller Lite All-Stars".

Uecker published two books, an autobiography entitled Catcher in the Wry (ISBN 0-515-09029-8), and Catch 222 (ISBN 0-399-13744-0).

Acting career

Uecker also pursued an acting career, playing the part of George Owens on the television sitcom Mr. Belvedere in the 1980s. He played a prominent role in Major League, Major League II, and Major League: Back to the Minors as Harry Doyle, the announcer for the team on which the movie is based, the Cleveland Indians. A phrase from this movie, "Juuuust a bit outside...", referring to a pitch that is several feet outside the strike zone, began appearing in some DirecTV ads in the spring of 2007.

Sports expertise outside of baseball

Uecker's sports expertise extends beyond baseball. He hosted two syndicated television shows, Bob Uecker's Wacky World of Sports and Bob Uecker's War of the Stars. The former has since become known as The Lighter Side of Sports (albeit with a different host, Mike Golic) and remains one of the longest-running syndicated sports programs in American television history.

Uecker also appeared in a series of commercials for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League in the mid-1990s, including one in which he re-designed the team's uniforms to feature a garish plaid reminiscent of the loud sports coats synonymous with Uecker in the 1970s and 1980s. In February 2006, the Admirals commemorated those commercials with a special event in which the players wore the plaid jerseys[1] during a game. The jerseys were then auctioned off to benefit charity.[2]

Wrestling announcer

In 1987, Uecker appeared as a ringside announcer at WrestleMania III in Pontiac, Michigan, followed by a return in 1988 at WrestleMania IV as both a ringside announcer and backstage interviewer. One famous WrestleMania segment saw André the Giant choking Uecker.

In the fall of 2006, WWE contacted Uecker to appear at WrestleMania 23 on April 1, 2007 in Detroit, Michigan. It was reported in Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter that WWE wanted Uecker to be involved in a sketch of some sort with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. It would later be announced that Uecker would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010 as a celebrity inductee.

Honors

Uecker was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2003, he received the Ford C. Frick Award, bestowed annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for "major contributions to baseball". His humorous and self-deprecating speech was a highlight of the ceremony.[3]

In 2005, Uecker's 50th year in professional baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers placed a number 50 in his honor in their "Ring of Honor", near the retired numbers of Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Four years later, on May 12, 2009, Uecker's name was also added to the Braves Wall of Honor inside Miller Park.[4]

Popular culture

  • He was the voice of the "head of Bob Uecker" in the Futurama episode "A Leela of Her Own."
    • Uecker: Mulligan drives the ball. It's going, going and caught by the shortstop. Mets lose again. Man, I haven't seen play this bad since the days of Bob Uecker! This is Bob Uecker, saying thanks for watching!
The Uecker Seats.
  • Uecker appeared in a series of popular Miller Lite commercials. In one popular commercial from the 1980s, Uecker was seen preparing to watch a baseball game when an usher informs him he is in the wrong seat. Uecker pompously remarks, "I must be in the front row," which became another of his catchphrases. The punch line was that Uecker's seat was actually in the nosebleed section. Since then, the farthest seats from the action in arenas and stadiums have been called "Uecker seats". [5] There is a section of $1 seating called the "Uecker Seats" at Miller Park, which is an obstructed-view area in the deep upper grandstand above home plate where the stadium's roof pivot comes together (in reference to one of his Miller Lite commercials).
  • Uecker portrays Harry Doyle, the broadcaster for the Cleveland Indians, in the Major League trilogy. In the movies, Uecker's character is known for his witticisms and his tendency to become intoxicated from drinking Jack Daniel's whiskey during losing games.

Other quotes

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Actually, I was born in Illinois. My mother and father were on an oleo margarine run to Chicago back in 1934, because we couldn't get colored margarine in Wisconsin. On the way home, my mother was with child. Me. And the pains started, and my dad pulled off into an exit area, and that's where the event took place. I remember it was a Nativity type setting. An exit light shining down. There were three truck drivers there. One guy was carrying butter, one guy had frankfurters, and the other guy was a retired baseball scout who told my folks that I probably had a chance to play somewhere down the line.[6]

(This story also appears, albeit in quotation marks, indicating it was part of his "standup act", in his 1982 autobiography, Catcher in the Wry. However, that same book's appendix lists his career stats and his birthplace as Milwaukee, which agrees with every major publication.)

  • "How do you catch a knuckleball? Wait until it stops rolling, then go to the backstop and pick it up."
  • "You know, I was once named Minor League Player of the Year...unfortunately, I had been in the majors for two years at the time."
  • "I won the Comeback of the Year Award five years in a row!"
  • "I'm scared of the Reds."
  • "I had been playing for a while, and I asked Louisville Slugger to send me a dozen flame treated bats. But when I got it, I realized they had sent me a box of ashes."
  • "Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone!"—Uecker's signature call of a Brewers home run
  • "It's gotta chance to gooooo, GOOONE!"—Uecker's original signature call of a Brewers home run
  • "How about that one, folks!"—Another signature call after a big hit or play in the field.
  • "Well, a couple of grand slammers and the Brewers are right back in this one."—Uecker during the 8th inning of a game the Brewers were losing 8–0
  • "I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for $3,000. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn't have that kind of dough. But he eventually scraped it up."
  • "Hey struck him out!" Uecker's classic big-strikeout call; sounds like he's gonna say 'he struck him out' but the elevated excitement makes it a 'hey'.
  • "It's....... in there" Uecker declares for called strike one or two
  • "...right down Wisconsin Avenue" -Uecker's call of a pitch right down the middle
  • "Sometimes I'm driving down the road, and I grab a bratwurst from the box and stick it in the car lighter, for a nice fresh sausage. Mhmmm, delicious." -Unscripted promo during 2007 game
  • "Juuuuust a bit outside" - A pitch that is thrown several feet from the strike zone, away from the batter, typically one that the catcher has no chance of receiving.

References

External links

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