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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bob Uecker
Uecker in 2011
Catcher / Broadcaster
Born: (1934-01-26) January 26, 1934 (age 90)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 13, 1962, for the Milwaukee Braves
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1967, for the Atlanta Braves
MLB statistics
Batting average.200
Home runs14
Runs batted in74
Teams
As player

As broadcaster

Career highlights and awards

Robert George Uecker (/ˈjuːkər/ YOO-kər; born January 26, 1934) is an American former professional baseball catcher who is the primary broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Uecker signed with his hometown Milwaukee Braves in 1956, spending several years in the minor leagues with various affiliate clubs before making his major league debut in 1962. As a backup catcher, he played for the Milwaukee Braves, St. Louis Cardinals (with whom he won a World Series in 1964), Philadelphia Phillies, and Atlanta Braves from 1962 to 1967.

After retiring, Uecker started a broadcasting career and has served as a play-by-play announcer for Milwaukee Brewers radio broadcasts since 1971. Uecker became known for his self-deprecating wit and became a regular fixture on late night talk shows in the 1970s and 1980s, facetiously dubbed "Mr. Baseball" by TV talk show host Johnny Carson. He hosted several sports blooper shows and had an acting career that included his role as George Owens on the TV show Mr. Belvedere and as play-by-play announcer Harry Doyle in the film Major League and its two sequels.[1]

Uecker was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame with its 2003 Ford C. Frick Award in recognition of his broadcasting career. In 2024, he began his 54th season calling Brewers games, the second-longest tenure among active major league baseball broadcasters (after Kansas City Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews).

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Bob Uecker – Sounds of Baseball
  • Bob Uecker on hitting three home runs off of three hall of fame pitchers

Transcription

Early life

Though he has sometimes joked that he was born on an oleo run to Illinois, Uecker was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,[2] the son of August "Gus" Uecker, who immigrated from Switzerland in 1923, and Mary Schultz Uecker, originally from Michigan. He has two younger sisters, Carol Ann and Rosemary.[3] He grew up watching the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers at Borchert Field.

Playing career

Uecker with the Braves in 1962

Uecker signed a professional contract with his hometown Milwaukee Braves in 1956. With the Braves, Uecker bounced around for six years, playing with affiliates at various levels. In his first year he played in Class C, with the Eau Claire Bears in the Northern League and Boise in the Pioneer League. Between both of the clubs, he hit 19 home runs.[4][5]

Uecker made his Major League Baseball debut as a catcher with the club in 1962. A below-average hitter, he finished with a career batting average of .200. He was generally considered to be 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. However, in 1967, despite playing only 59 games, he led the league in passed balls and is still on the top 10 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.[6] He often joked that the best way to catch a knuckleball was to wait until it stopped rolling and pick it up.[7] Uecker also played for the St. Louis Cardinals (and was a member of the 1964 World Series Championship team) and Philadelphia Phillies before returning to the Braves, who had by then moved to Atlanta. His six-year Major League career concluded in 1967.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of Uecker's career was when he hit a home run off future Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, after which Uecker joked that he always feared that home run would keep Koufax from getting into the Hall of Fame. He also hit home runs off Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry.[8]

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. Uecker's tenure as a Brewers broadcaster (54 years as of the 2024 season) is the second-longest continuous tenure with one team among active Major League Baseball announcers, trailing only Kansas City Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews (1969–present).

During his Brewers tenure, Uecker has mentored Pat Hughes, Jim Powell, Cory Provus and Joe Block, all of whom became primary radio announcers for other MLB teams.[9] For several years he also served as a color commentator for network television broadcasts of Major League Baseball, helping call games for ABC in the 1970s and early '80s and NBC (teaming with Bob Costas and Joe Morgan) in the 1990s. During that time, he was a commentator for several League Championship Series and World Series. He also called the 1982 World Series locally for the Brewers on WISN in Milwaukee.

In 2014, Uecker cut back on his workload, limiting the number of road games he would call and traveling he would undertake, due to prior health issues.[10]

Prior to the 2021 season, Uecker had never signed an official written contract with the Brewers to do the team's play-by-play, instead agreeing to do so via an undisclosed number of handshake agreements with either Bud Selig or Mark Attanasio, the owners of the team. He finally signed a contract in 2021, in order to be covered under the Brewers' health insurance plan after cuts to his SAG-AFTRA benefits for acting work.[11][12]

As of 2022, Uecker teams with Jeff Levering and Lane Grindle to call Brewers home games on WTMJ in Milwaukee and the Brewers Radio Network throughout Wisconsin.[13] He is well known for saying his catchphrase "Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone!" when a Brewers player hits a home run.[14]

Sports expertise outside 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 during a game. The jerseys were then auctioned off to benefit charity.[15]

Wrestling announcer

In March 1987, Uecker appeared at World Wrestling Federation's (WWF, now WWE) WrestleMania III in Pontiac, Michigan, as the ring announcer for the pay-per-view's main event of Hulk Hogan versus André the Giant. He returned in 1988 at WrestleMania IV as a ringside announcer, commentator during the opening Battle Royal and backstage interviewer. One famous WrestleMania segment saw André the Giant choking Uecker.[16]

Humor

Known for his humor, particularly about his undistinguished playing career, Uecker actually became much better known after he retired from playing. He made some 100[17] guest appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. During one Tonight Show appearance, Carson asked him what the biggest thrill of his professional baseball career was and with his typical dry wit Uecker replied, "Watching a fan fall out of the upper deck in Philadelphia; the crowd booed." Most of his wisecracks poked fun at himself. He once joked that after he hit a grand slam off pitcher Ron Herbel, "When his manager came out to get him, he was bringing Herbel's suitcase." On another occasion, he quipped, "Sporting goods companies would pay me not to endorse their products."[18] On his later acting career, he commented, "Even when I played baseball, I was acting." Even when he was announcing games, he often said some outlandish things, like during a particularly bad game the Brewers were playing in, where he reportedly said, "A couple of grand-slammys and the Brewers are right back in it."

Uecker hosted Saturday Night Live on October 13, 1984. The episode also featured musical performances by Peter Wolf.[19] Uecker also appeared in a number of humorous commercials, most notably for Miller Lite beer, as one of the "Miller Lite All-Stars".

Uecker authored two books, an autobiography titled Catcher in the Wry, and Catch 222.

Honors

Uecker at Miller Park, 2011

The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Uecker as Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year five times (1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987),[20] and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2011.[21]

Uecker was inducted into the National 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.[22]

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 American Family Field.[23]

Uecker was inducted into the Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010,[16] honored for his appearances at WrestleMania III and WrestleMania IV.

On August 31, 2012, the Brewers erected the Uecker Monument outside American Family Field[24] alongside statues of Hank Aaron, Robin Yount and Bud Selig.

Uecker was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals in 2017.[25]

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared September 25, 2021, as Bob Uecker Day in honor of his 50th year broadcasting Brewers games.[26] Uecker threw out the first pitch in the game against the New York Mets. But instead of throwing the ball to the catcher, he unveiled a pitching machine and used that. Before the game, left fielder Christian Yelich presented a gift on behalf of the players, a pair of custom Nike sneakers with "Air Uecker" and "Get Up, Get Up" on one foot and "One Of Us" and "Just a Bit Outside" on the other.[27]

Acting roles

The Uecker seats

Uecker played the character of father and sportswriter George Owens on the 1985–1990 sitcom Mr. Belvedere, appearing regularly.[1]

He also appeared in a series of Miller Lite commercials starting in the 1980s. In one commercial from that decade, 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 some arenas and stadiums have been jokingly called "Uecker seats". There is a section of $1 seating called the "Uecker seats" at American Family Field, which is an obstructed-view area in the upper grandstand above home plate where the stadium's roof pivot comes together (in reference to one of his Miller Lite commercials). Another of Uecker's catchphrases from the aforementioned Miller Lite 'front row' commercial is, "He missed the tag!" which he yells with confidence from his seat in the top row of the upper deck of the stadium, far away from the action.[28]

Uecker made cameo appearances as himself in the films O.C. and Stiggs, and Fatal Instinct, and in episodes of the sitcoms Who's the Boss?, D.C. Follies, and LateLine. He was the voice of the "head of Bob Uecker" in the Futurama episode "A Leela of Her Own".[1] Another prominent role was as Harry Doyle, the broadcaster for the Cleveland Indians, in the Major League film trilogy.[1] In the movies, Uecker's character is known for his witticisms and his tendency to become intoxicated from drinking during losing games, as well as downplaying poor play by the team for the radio audience: for example, in the first film he also coins another popular sports catchphrase "Juuust a bit outside", to downplay an extremely wild pitch from Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn. Uecker received the role not because of his broadcasting history with the Brewers but because of his popular Miller Lite commercials.[29]

In 2021, Uecker made a guest appearance in the Disney+ series Monsters at Work where he voiced a parody of himself named "Bob Yucker".[30]

Personal life

Uecker and his first wife, Joyce (died 2015),[31] had four children: Leeann, Steve, Sue Ann, and Bob Jr.[32] Steve (1959–2012), a cowboy, died of complications of San Joaquin Valley Fever.[33] Leeann (1957–2022) died of ALS in March 2022.[34]

Uecker and his second wife, Judy, were married in Louisiana in 1976 and divorced in 2001. At the time of the divorce, he lived in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.[35]

Health problems

On April 27, 2010, Uecker announced that he was going to miss 10–12 weeks of the 2010 baseball season because of heart surgery. His aortic valve and a portion of his aortic root were successfully replaced four days later, and he returned to broadcasting for the Brewers on July 23.[36][37][38] On October 14, 2010, the Brewers announced Uecker would again undergo heart surgery, this time to repair a tear at the site of his valve replacement.[39]

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Bob Uecker". IMDb.
  2. ^ O'Donnell, Dan (April 4, 2010). "Bob Uecker Made Me a Broadcaster". 620 WTMJ. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  3. ^ "August Uecker Petition for Naturalization 1953". Ancestry.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2021. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  4. ^ "Bob Uecker (SABR BioProject)". Society for American Baseball Research.
  5. ^ Greenwood, Chuck (1999). As Voice of the Brewers, Uecker 'Just Started Talking'. Sports Collectors Digest.
  6. ^ Passed Balls - Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers
  7. ^ Roberts, Steven V. (April 3, 2015). "The pitch that bobs and baffles". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  8. ^ "Bob Uecker Home Runs". Baseball Almanac.
  9. ^ Haudricourt, Tom (April 2, 2016). "Rebuilding projects in Brewers radio booth always go smoothly with Uecker". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  10. ^ Hardicourt, Tom (January 30, 2014). "Bob Uecker says he will cut back on workload". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  11. ^ Robb, David (August 14, 2020). "Hard Choices To Save SAG-AFTRA's Troubled Health Plan; 3,500 Performers & 2,800 Dependents Projected To Lose Benefits Next Year Under Restructuring". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  12. ^ McCalvy, Adam (March 2, 2021). "Grateful Uecker back in booth for Crew". MLB.com. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  13. ^ Radcliffe, JR (April 7, 2022). "Get to know the announcers calling Brewers baseball games during the 2022 season on TV and radio". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  14. ^ Winn, Luke (July 1, 2013). "The Endless Summer Of Bob Uecker". Sports Illustrated. pp. 50–55. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  15. ^ "Plaid is the Admirals Color". MilwaukeeAdmirals.com. Archived from the original on September 14, 2007.
  16. ^ a b "Bob Uecker's WWE Hall of Fame profile". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  17. ^ "Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster profile". MLB.com. Archived from the original on November 22, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  18. ^ "Bob Uecker Quotes". Baseball Almanac.
  19. ^ Radcliffe, JR; Foran, Chris. "Here are 19 Wisconsinites who have guest-hosted or performed on 'Saturday Night Live,' including J.J. Watt, Bob Uecker and Willem Dafoe". Journal Sentinel. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
  20. ^ "Wisconsin Sportscasters". National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Archived from the original on June 8, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  21. ^ "Hall of Fame". National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  22. ^ Olson, Drew (July 27, 2003). "Uecker's standup act leaves 'em laughing". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  23. ^ McCalvy, Adam (February 27, 2009). "Brewers celebrate native son Uecker". MLB.com. Archived from the original on May 19, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  24. ^ McCalvy, Adam (August 31, 2012). "Brewers celebrate Uecker's legendary career". MLB.com. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  25. ^ "Shrine of the Eternals – Inductees" Archived September 19, 2020, at the Wayback Machine. Baseball Reliquary. Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  26. ^ "Gov. Evers declares Bob Uecker Day in Wisconsin". WBAY. September 24, 2021. Archived from the original on September 25, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  27. ^ "Bob Uecker Day cause for 50th celebration". MLB.com. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  28. ^ Liotta, Tim (August 17, 1985). "What an Honor!: After the Commercial, Bob Uecker Even Has a Section of Bad Seats Named After Him". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  29. ^ Iracane, Rob (June 29, 2011). "Top 10 revelations from SI's oral history of 'Major League'". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  30. ^ "Bob Yucker Voice - Monsters at Work (TV Show)". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  31. ^ "Joyce Irene Uecker Obituary". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved September 26, 2021 – via Legacy.com.
  32. ^ "Photos: Brewers' Bob Uecker through the years". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  33. ^ "Steven Earl Uecker Obituary". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved September 26, 2021 – via Legacy.com.
  34. ^ McCalvy, Adam (June 2, 2022). "Legendary Uecker forges ahead after offseason of tribulation". MLB.com.
  35. ^ "Bob Uecker Splits With Wife". Associated Press. May 16, 2001. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  36. ^ McCalvy, Adam (April 27, 2010). "Uecker to have heart surgery". MLB.com. Archived from the original on May 3, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  37. ^ Antonen, Mel (May 1, 2010). "Broadcaster Bob Uecker's heart surgery a success". USA Today. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  38. ^ Sandomir, Richard (August 13, 2010). "Bob Uecker Returns to the Booth". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2024.
  39. ^ "Bob Uecker needs more heart surgery". ESPN. Associated Press. October 14, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2013.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by Lead color commentator,
Major League Baseball on NBC

19941997 (with Joe Morgan)
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 1 June 2024, at 19:24
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