Sunday, April 22, 2007


As a frustrated baseball player, I want to tell you about a man I can relate to and admire. "Mr. Baseball", Bob Uecker, the announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers is one of the funniest men in baseball. A native of Milwaukee, he is a brilliant marketer who made a career joking about his ineptness on the baseball field. He parlayed this into a starring role in the TV sitcom, "Mr. Belvedere", and also a role in the movie "Major League".

He did a beer commercial in which he populatized the line "I must be in the front row", when he was placed in the worst seats in the stadium. Those seats in Milwaukee's Miller Park are now called the "Uecker Seats" in his honor.

He played 6 seasons in the major leagues, but most of that time was spent on the bench. His lifetime batting average was a paltry .200. He never stole a base, but was thrown out 3 times in his career. A catcher, he had 27 passed balls and 11 errors in one season, leading the league in both categories. What was incredible was that he played in fewer than half the games that season. He was a prime candidate for the "least valuable player" award if there was such an award. He even received a World Series Championship ring with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he never appeared in a World Series game--apparently the manager forgot to put him in.

He joked that the high point in his career was in 1965 when he received an intentional walk from pitching great Sandy Koufax. What he didn't say was he hit a home run off Koufax his previous time at bat. He hit only 2 home runs that season (the other was off Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry).

Sandy Koufax was that season the best pitcher in baseball. He won 26 games and set the major league record for strikeouts in a season, while pitching the Los Angeles Dodgers to the World Series Championship. Koufax was the Most Valuable Player in the World Series. He even pitched a perfect fame no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs. Perfect games are extremely rare, even against the Cubs, who have gone 99 years without a Championship.

To say the least, Koufax dominated major league batters that season with great success against the likes of baseball greats Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks (who went hitless against Koufax that season). Koufax didn't fool Bob Uecker however, who batted .400 against him that season. All the other batters in the league batted only a measly .179 against Koufax.

Uecker once hit a grand slam homer against the Giants. Uecker joked that when the Giants manager came out to the mound to replace the hapless pitcher, he was carrying the pitcher's suitcase with him. "Sorry son, we're sending you back to Keokuk."

Uecker has his name on a plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, for meritorious service as an announcer, but obviously not as a player.




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