Cast in Bronze

Cast in Bronze

Cast in Bronze

Television's late night King Johnny Carson slapped the label, "MR.BASEBALL" on former major league catcher turned broadcaster Bob Uecker in the 1970's. Uecker played 297 games in a six year career with four different teams (1962 - 1967). He's the only .200 hitter I know that now occupies a place of honor outside the entrance to a MLB park, Miller Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A seven foot bronze statue of Uecker was unveiled yesterday (Friday) and now stands close to statues of Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Robin Yount and baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

On hand for the ceremony before the Milwaukee Brewers played the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday were many of Ueckers former teammates and friends. The event MC was sportscaster Bob Costas who said, "if you were to walk past the statue's and listen very carefully, you could hear Henry Aaron's statue "begging" to be relocated. Aaron was on hand and told Uecker that he recalled a time playing with the Braves when "I was in a semi-slump and you were "always" in a slump." Aaron went on to add Uecker suggested some hitting advice and said if he ever learned to hit the curve ball he might be pretty good. Aaron said he completely ignored Uecker's advice.

In 1967, despite playing only 59 games, Uecker led the league with passed balls and is still on the top ten list for most passed balls in a season. At least a partial explanation is that he spent a good deal of the season catching knuckleballer Phil Niekro. Uecker often joked that the best way to catch a knuckleball was to "wait until it stopped rolling" and pick it up. Perhaps the biggest highlight of Uecker's career was when he hit a home run off Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax. Uecker himself has joked that he always thought that home run would keep Koufax from getting into the Hall of Fame.

Once out of uniform Uecker stayed with Milwaukee as a scout. That job was short-lived when he sent in his first scouting report that couldn't be read. Seems he wrote the report while having dinner one night, spilled mashed potatoes and gravy on the papers and the front office couldn't read what he wrote. The next year (1971) he began calling play-by-play for the Brewers radio broadcasts, a position he holds to this day. His television, movie, appearances and down-home funny sense of humor made him a favorite of Johnny Carson. It also led to a starring role in a five year running television series, "Mr.Belvedere" (1980-1985) and his role as "Harry Doyle," the broadcaster for the Cleveland Indians, in the "Major League" film trilogy made him a legitimate movie star. Uecker's character, "Harry Doyle," was known for his witticisms and his tendency to become intoxicated from drinking during losing games. Uecker always said he was a "perfect" cast.
He got the role not because of his broadcasting history with the Brewers, but because of his popular Miller Lite commercials.

Uecker has broadcast Milwaukee Brewers games with a unique blend of humor and insight for 42 seasons - he's the only man known to get away with publicly referring to the Commissioner of Baseball Allan H.(Bud) Selig as "AL."
The popular ex-catcher once said, " anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. But to be able to trick people year in and year out the way I did - I think that was a much greater feat."
Uecker may be right, I don't know of any other .200 hitter that's ever been, Cast in "BRONZE."...... Do you?

Larry Upton
"Upton on Sports"-source:miamiherald/wikipedia/centralwisconsin/

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By Larry Upton
Tuesday, 4 Sep 2012


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