There's no one quite like Uecker, in sports or elsewhere
Beloved announcer and TV and movie actor brings wit, charm to everything he does
For sports fans -- die-hard or casual -- nothing produces more joy out of nowhere than two words: Bob Uecker.
You might smile like crazy.
I also hear a bunch of folks giggling out there with just the thought of Harry Doyle, George Owens in "Mr. Belvedere," Mr. Baseball or that self-deprecating fellow sitting by himself in the (ahem) "front row." In case you've been visiting Pluto for the past three decades or so, all of those characters of lore belong to Uecker, and I didn't even mention he has been the play-by-play announcer for the Brewers since their second season in Milwaukee in 1971.
Which brings me to a warning: If you prefer to keep a stone face for whatever reason, then you should avoid any picture or video of Uecker. You also shouldn't even think of seeing this guy up close and personal. In both scenarios, you'll lack the ability to keep from becoming anything less than gleeful.
There is just something about this certifiably funny man who also is a famously good broadcaster who brings sunshine, no matter. So things have been rather bright lately around the universe. That's because every time you look around, there is something else in the news about Uecker.
Not that anybody is complaining.
Just like that, the 80-year-old Uecker has evolved into an American icon as popular as anybody you can name. I do mean anybody, by the way, and that includes sports personalities, recording artists, Hollywood celebrities, politicians and any of the Simpsons.
Remember the movie "Major League"? There were sequels, stretching all the way to "Major League III," and Uecker played a role for the ages in all of them as fictional baseball announcer Harry Doyle. Not only that, he uttered a line during "Major League" that ranks somewhere between "There's no place like home" and "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" among the all-time classics.
"Juhhhhst a bit outside."
Great news: There could be a "Major League IV" before long.
"They are talking about it. The storyline is set, too," Uecker told reporters last week, when he announced he'll mostly do Brewers home games this season. Guess he needs more time around Milwaukee to resurrect Doyle on the big screen.
Added Uecker, "They've already asked me if I would be in for 'Major League IV,' and I told them I would. I have talked to the directors. They're talking about it and are pretty serious. That's all I can tell you, really. If there was more, I'd tell you that, too. They have been talking about it for the last year or so. They called me during the season last year and asked me if I would be in."
Of course, they did.
We're talking about Doyle ... well, Uecker.
We could stop right there when it comes to why Uecker will be hugged forever, but there is more. So much more I'll just flip a coin. It's heads, which means it's actually tails for the Uecker who played a lovable loser in those Miller Lite commercials of the 1980s. Let's explore the "front row" thing I mentioned earlier involving Uecker, and this goes back to his days as the lead character -- and I do mean character -- in the majority of those commercials.
There was Uecker missing Halley's Comet. There was Uecker daydreaming about the Winter Olympics. There was Uecker with the bomb exploding in his hands. There was Uecker wearing a Rodney Dangerfield mask.
None of those commercials surpassed the one in which Uecker believes he was getting seats in the front row at a baseball game before ending up in the back row of the ballpark. A few years ago, the Brewers turned that decades-old commercial into a marketing tool for a bunch of obstructed-view seats in the far reaches of Miller Park. They dubbed everything in that Section 422 "Uecker seats," and the tickets cost $1 each on game days.
Now, to make that commercial live even more, the Brewers recently announced that they'll place a statue of Uecker in the section, and they'll make sure it is positioned in the worst of the worst seats. Said Uecker to MLB.com, when asked about the, um, honor from the Brewers, "I can't think of a better place to put this statue. This will be great for fans and even better for pigeons. You might even be able to see a little part of the field."
All jokes aside, Uecker is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it isn't because of his pitiful Major League career as a catcher that generated enough humor for Uecker to become a frequent storyteller (and some of his stories actually were true) on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. Uecker made it to Cooperstown in 2003 courtesy of his acclaimed work regarding baseball before a mike or camera. He has called regular and postseason TV games for ABC and NBC, but his primary fame has come as the splendid voice of the Brewers.
No wonder another statue of Uecker was unveiled at Miller Park in September 2012, and it sits with those of Hank Aaron, Robin Yount and Bud Selig.
Uecker is the only one of the four with two statues at the ballpark.
Then again, Uecker is funniest.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.