Courtesy of the Associated Press
Forbidden Love is a Cubs DNA series where our staff waxes poetic about a player on a team other than the Cubs. Maybe even one you think they should hate. In this installment, Staci goes off the diamond and into the booth for a look at one of her favorite broadcasters, Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Uecker.
"Mom, who is that man calling the game?" The Cubs were off that day, so I tuned to the Brewers on the way home with my daughter in the car to keep an ear on the competition. I explained to her that it was Hall of Fame broadcaster and former MLB player Bob Uecker, who had been calling games since before I was even born. After a quiet moment or two, she simply said, "I like him. He's good!" And I nodded in proud agreement.
Oh Matt, you... me... same...
Admittedly, there's not a lot to like about the Brewers these days if you're a Cubs fan. Divisional standings the last two years aside, Milwaukee has been home to the most punchable face in baseball since 2013 when we all found out Ryan Braun cheated his way to his 2011 MVP award, then tried to ruin a man's life to save face over it. The Brewers' insecurity is increasingly tiresome, as they've tried to prevent Cubs fans from purchasing tickets to their series in Miller Park (AKA Wrigley North) the last two seasons, and their social media accounts consistently have the tone of being run by rotating members of The Plastics.
Even Christian Yelich, the one guy we liked for his off-field charity work and respected for his undeniable on-field talent, lost us earlier in the fall when he went after King Yu Darvish on Twitter for absolutely not accusing him of cheating. Truly, it was a head scratch moment and one that sounded curiously defensive in light of the Houston Astros cheating scandal. This tweet from our friends at Bleacher Nation kind of says it all.
Fortunately, the 85 year old Uecker has been a mainstay in Milwaukee for 48 years and continues to outclass many components of the team he works for. Maybe you like just a touch more exuberant homerism than the understated elegance of the Cubs' beloved Pat Hughes, but without the histrionics of the Yankees' John Sterling (because you can't predict baseball, Suzyn). Or perhaps you appreciate a commentator who actually takes the time to learn about the opposing team's players, including proper pronunciation of their names, unlike say Mike "Goldschmith" Shannon of the Cardinals. If that's the case, take the time to listen to this:
Ah, the pure joy! Uecker also has managed to avoid the pitfalls many of his generation have stepped headlong into... you know, the ones where they hate the "flashy" players? *wink wink* He doesn't really do that--somehow Ueck has managed to get old without losing respect for the youth of the game. That, my friends, is valuable in today's "OK Boomer" society. (Our beloved Pat is also this way, and we love him dearly for it.)
Uecker is also a brilliant speaker in pretty much every way--engaging, comforting, funny. If you have 20 minutes to spare, get in the sort of wayback machine and watch his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech, where he doesn't look down at notes once and tells hilarious, self-deprecating stories from his childhood and his playing days that led to his broadcasting career (he even thanks Pat!). It's beautiful, funny, and completely worth your time.
Of course, there are the other things we remember about Uecker's career--who could forget his turn as Harry Doyle in one of the best baseball films of all time?
Mmmm, a classic. Children of the 80's will also remember Uecker starring in Mr. Belvedere, a television series that ran for five full years about a family in Pittsburgh, a stuffy butler, and some other stuff, but mainly that Bob Uecker starred in it. I mean, that's crazy, but it happened!
Most importantly, Uecker seems to be a pretty swell guy off the field, too, participating in numerous charity events throughout the year both with and apart from the team. Most notably, when the Brewers went deep into the 2018 postseason and team members voted to give Ueck a full team playoff share, he donated every dime to charity. That's the kind of thing that garners a lot of love around DNA HQ.
So, even though the Brewers might be a little, um, challenging to like these days, I'll still tune to their radio broadcasts when my little one asks me to so that she can listen to one of the best in the game. After all, I just feel it's my duty as a baseball parent to keep spreading the Uecker love... that is, at least until she's old enough to watch Major League.