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Uecker statue gets spot in last row at Miller Park

MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers first proposed another Bob Uecker statue at Miller Park, he rejected the idea.

"I was under the impression that they wanted me to work up there," Uecker deadpanned.

"Up there" is way up there, behind the last row of section 422 in the upper deck, where the Brewers playfully dedicated another statue of the man known as Mr. Baseball on Friday. It was a nod to the Miller Lite "All Stars" ads of the 1970s and '80s in which Uecker would proclaim, "I must be in the front row!" only to get sent to the cheap seats.

They don't get much cheaper than this. The Brewers sell obstructed-view seats near the new Uecker statue for $1 apiece on game days.

"It's pretty cool," Uecker said after climbing the steps to meet his match. "I'll have to call the people who are going to take care of me when I meet my maker and have them come up here and look at the statue. I think when I finally go, I might want to go like that. Seated and above ground. That might be nice."

There was a serious component to Friday's frivolity. Statue designer Brian Maughan, the same artist who made the four statues outside Miller Park -- Hank Aaron, Allan H. "Bud" Selig, Robin Yount and Uecker -- included an extra seat next to the seated Uecker. Fans who make a donation to the Brewers Community Foundation and Make A Wish Foundation will get to take their picture alongside the likeness of Uecker.

Uecker made sure to mention the charitable angle on Friday afternoon, but the day was mostly fun. Yount and fellow Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers were on hand for a ceremony down on the field with Uecker's friends and family, plus Brewers players and front-office officials.

When Yount stepped to the podium, he looked around the quiet ballpark.

"Fifty thousand empty seats," Yount said. "What a ceremony."

Said Fingers: "I don't know how … you're going to get up there to see it, but congratulations."

The new Uecker statue is made of bronze, but unlike the others at Miller Park, has color effects. Uecker is shown wearing a bright blue shirt, tan pants and, as usual, a big smile.

He wore that smile wide in the Miller Lite ads, which featured legendary athletes from every major sport, including Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle, Ray Nitschke, John Madden, Dick Butkus and Joe Frazier. It was just one of the off-the-field endeavors that made Uecker a national celebrity, beginning with his more than 100 appearances on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson."

"It's been a great ride and a great thrill to be able to work here and to be allowed by our former owner, Bud Selig, and now Mark Attanasio, to get myself involved in all of these other projects," Uecker said Friday. "Those Miller Lite years, the commercials that ran for some 17 years, were one of the most unbelievable times I've ever had."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.
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