Sportscaster Bob Uecker
You just gotta love baseball funnyman Bob Uecker. Widely known for his self-deprecating sense of humor, Uecker's short baseball career has been overshadowed by his long run as a Hall of Fame broadcaster. Uecker is also known for his humorous acting skills, as well as his numerous and hilarious visits to late night television. Bob Uecker was even donned "Mr. Baseball" by the late Johnny Carson.
Public domain photo courtesy nab.org
Bob Uecker has been calling games for the Milwaukee Brewers since 1971.
Photo courtesy lunch.com
Playing and Broadcasting Career
Uecker was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and 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.
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 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 speech was a highlight of the ceremony, as Uecker was bad-mouthing himself from start to finish, all with his usual straight face.
Uecker on Doug Russell
Uecker won a World Series ring while playing for the Cardinals in 1964.
"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." - Bob Uecker
Movies and Television
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 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.
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.