Friday, March 14, 2003

JS Online: Now it's Ueckerstown

"If you are a baseball fan in Wisconsin, Bob Uecker has been inside your house. He's been at your cookouts and picnics. Now, as he enters his 33rd year with the Brewers, Uecker is headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame."

"Career highlights? I had two. I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets."

"As someone who has made a showbiz career of belittling his own playing days, Uecker will gather for his July induction with the likes of Hank Aaron, Robin Yount and Bob Gibson, esteemed members of the brotherhood who also happened to once share a clubhouse with Mr. Baseball."

Give the man his due. He's been a reounding success in three very different fields: as a skilled broadcaster, a decent comic actor, and as a ballplayer. Yah, I know the .200 career batting average, but he made it all the way to the big leagues in probably the most competitive era ever: post-Jackie Robinson, pre-expansion, and Ueck was good enough.

Plus by all accounts he's a hell of a nice guy.

I spent many many happy hours in my childhood and young adult years listening to Bob Uecker: puttering around the garage with my dad, riding in the car on vacation, celebrating the `82 pennant in the dorms at Eau Claire. I worked "with" Mr. Baseball in a very small way, at a local Brewer station in La Crosse. I had to pay attention to every call and every out, because I had to squeeze in the local ads and weather.

The money was lousy. But I just remember thinking "I'm getting paid - paid! - to listen to Ueck and the Brewers." Somehow it never seemed like work.

Congrats to one of the great ones. Cooperstown, just be sure to give him a seat in the front roooooooow.

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