Bob Uecker enters his 50th season as a broadcaster for his hometown team, calling games on Newsradio 620 WTMJ and the Brewers Radio Network. He is celebrating his 65th year in baseball.
Known across the country as “Mr. Baseball,” Uecker is highly respected throughout the industry. He will forever be recognized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York after earning the prestigious Ford C. Frick Award in 2003, which is presented annually to a broadcaster for major contributions to the game. On July 27 that summer, he made one of the most memorable speeches in Hall of Fame history, leaving his audience, including former President George H.W. Bush, in tears from laughter.
In 2001, Uecker was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, where he joined baseball broadcasting luminaries Vin Scully, Mel Allen, Red Barber, Ernie Harwell and Jack Brickhouse, as well as other American icons, including Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Edward R. Murrow and Orson Welles. He was later inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2012.
In honor of Uecker’s tenure as a broadcaster for the Brewers — which is the fourth-longest tenure of any broadcaster in the history of Major League Baseball — he is recognized throughout the Miller Park grounds. In 2003, Uecker became a member of the Brewers Walk of Fame, which is located near home plate on the plaza outside Miller Park.
On August 31, 2012, a statue bearing his likeness was dedicated in his honor outside Miller Park, joining those previously dedicated to fellow Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Robin Yount and Commissioner Emeritus Allan H. “Bud” Selig. The ceremony was attended by celebrities, current and former players, as well as Uecker’s family and friends.
On April 25, 2014, a second statue was dedicated in Uecker’s honor, this one in the last row of the “Uecker Seats” on the Terrace Level at Miller Park. The statue commemorates the Miller Lite commercials in which he famously delivered the often repeated line, “I must be in the front row!” That year, he was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Brewers Wall of Honor, which is located along the third-base side outside Miller Park.
Uecker has also been recognized locally throughout his career with the Brewers, including earning Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year honors five times. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Performing Artists Hall of Fame in 1993, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. In January 1995, he earned the Big B.A.T. Award from the Baseball Assistance Team at a dinner in New York City in recognizition of his continued support of former Major League players who are in need of assistance.
Uecker’s big break can be traced to a 1969 visit with Al Hirt, a renowned jazz trumpeter from New Orleans. Hirt asked him to come on stage at a small nightclub he opened in Atlanta. Hirt was so impressed with Uecker that he arranged an appearance for him on The Tonight Show, starring Johnny Carson. Uecker became one of Carson’s favorite guests, making more than 100 appearances before Carson retired in 1992. He also made appearances on The Mike Douglas Show, The Merv Griffin Show and Late Night with David Letterman, and served as a guest host on Saturday Night Live. Uecker became a national celebrity, and the ABC Network capitalized on his popularity. He went on to make appearances on The Superstars, Friday Night Videos and The Midnight Special, which opened the door for additional high-profile appearances.
A versatile talent, Uecker’s credits go far beyond guest appearances and play-by-play. In 1985, he launched a television acting career as one of the stars of ABC’s sitcom Mr. Belvedere, which aired 122 episodes. He also hosted two syndicated television shows, Bob Uecker’s Wacky World of Sports and Bob Uecker’s War of the Stars.
Additionally, Uecker was one of the Miller Lite All-Stars in commercials for the beverage during the 1980s and was cast as a radio announcer in the movies Major League, which was filmed at County Stadium in Milwaukee, and Major League II. He has even made appearances on the pro wrestling circuit, hosting WrestleMania III and WrestleMania IV, which earned him a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.
Uecker’s national recognition gained broadcasting Brewers games both on radio and television also led to his role as color commentator for ABC Sports coverage of Monday Night Baseball, the League Championship Series and World Series, as well as NBC’s Friday Night Baseball.
Uecker’s accomplishments are not limited to the electronic medium as he authored a book entitled Catcher in the Wry, a humorous look back on his six years spent as a catcher with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. One of the highlights of his career was being a member of the 1964 world champion Cardinals.
Despite his national attention and success, Uecker has never forgotten his roots. In 2015, he was honored with the Lombardi Foundation’s Award of Excellence for his role in helping raise funds and awareness for cancer research. His philanthropic efforts have benefitted several local organizations, including the United Performing Arts Fund, the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Wounded Warriors.
In addition, Uecker is an advocate for organizations that battle cystic fibrosis and heart disease, and is involved with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.