07/25/2003 1:03 PM ET
Players: Growing up with 'Ueck'
Some Major Leaguers listened to Uecker as kids
MILWAUKEE -- The newest and funniest member of the broadcast wing at Cooperstown says he would not be there without the players.
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Maybe, some day, some of the players will say the same thing about Uecker.
"Every night in the summer, I'd be out in the front yard -- probably throwing a tennis ball off the roof and catching it -- and I'd be listening to 'Ueck,'" said Arizona's Craig Counsell, who grew up in the Milwaukee suburb of Whitefish Bay, Wis. "He's awesome.
"When I think about the Brewers, I think about Robin (Yount) and Paulie (Molitor) and (Jim) Gantner, and I think of Ueck. In a lot of ways, he is the Brewers."
Counsell was the 2001 National League Championship Series MVP on the way to a World Series crown. In 2002, another Wisconsin kid, Anaheim's Jarrod Washburn, helped his team to the top of the baseball world.
Washburn grew up in Webster, Wis., a town of 600 in the northwest corner of the state. He said he listened to "hundreds" of Uecker's broadcasts.
"He's definitely my favorite announcer growing up," Washburn said. "He's able to tell stories that have nothing to do with the game, but he still doesn't miss any of the game. He's a hilarious, hilarious man."
Others listened on the Brewers Radio Network, too. The Royals' Joe Randa and the Cubs Mark Grudzielanek grew up in the Milwaukee area, former Brewers and Indians closer Bob Wickman is from Green Bay, Blue Jays infielder Eric Hinske grew up in Menasha and Cubs catcher Damian Miller hails from LaCrosse.
"I just listened to almost every game with Uecker and (current WGN Radio broadcaster) Pat Hughes," Miller said about growing up in Wisconsin.
"My dad and brothers, they still listen to Uecker every night," he said. "My dad sits out on his deck in the summer. He's free entertainment sometimes. He's knowledgeable about the game and to me he means Brewer baseball. Uecker is Uecker."
But when Miller saw Uecker in the movie Major League, was that real Uecker?
"It was vintage Uecker," Miller said. "The way he delivers his spiel during the game, that's him. He makes the game more interesting. He's something special.
"When you're a kid growing up you have those fond memories, especially in '82 when the Brewers went to the World Series," he said. "I can name the whole starting lineup and the pitching staff. I used to imitate Uecker as a kid and his home run call."
That call -- "Get up, get up, get out of here, gone!" -- has followed Brewers sluggers from Hank Aaron to Gorman Thomas to Richie Sexson.
"A couple of times, I've come out of the game early and heard him on the speaker in the clubhouse," Sexson said. "He's awesome, he's Mr. Baseball. He's the nicest person you'll ever meet."
Uecker becomes quite emotional when he talks about the players whose baseball lives he has chronicled.
"I was one of them, and that's one thing I have always treasured about being here," Uecker said. "I know there's not another broadcaster in any sport that has had the attention, had the friendship throughout all my years that I have had with all of these guys."
Thank goodness Uecker found his way into the booth.
"I first hired him as a scout," Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig recalled during Spring Training. "We sent him up to the Northern League and the next thing I know, (general manager) Frank Lane comes raging into my office, asking what kind of scout I'd hired. I wasn't sure what he meant, and then he threw down Bob's scouting report. It was covered with mashed potatoes and gravy."
Selig knew it right away. As a scout, Uecker was born for the broadcast booth.
"They're going to lay be down here someplace," Uecker joked during his induction into the Brewers Walk of Fame at Miller Park on Thursday. "I'm not going anywhere else; I know that.
"When they asked me about this Walk of Fame, they said we can do it now, or later on, and put you in one of them boxes like they did for Lenin and Stalin. Over there in front of the main entrance, packed in ice. I said, 'I don't want to do that.' I figured someone would write graffiti on there: 'Get up, get up, get up...'"
But never gone.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters Carrie Muskat, Steve Gilbert and Doug Miller contributed to this report, which was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.