Today is the 85th birthday of Bob Uecker, who is an “American former Major League Baseball player and current sportscaster, comedian, and actor. Facetiously dubbed ‘Mr. Baseball’ by TV talk show host Johnny Carson, Uecker has served as a play-by-play announcer for Milwaukee Brewers radio broadcasts since 1971. He was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame with its 2003 Ford C. Frick Award in recognition of his broadcasting career.” But he is best-remembered, beerwise, for his humorous commercials in the 1980s for Miller Lite beer.
This is his biography, from his Wikipedia page:
Though he has sometimes joked that he was born on an oleo run to Illinois, Uecker was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He grew up watching the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers at Borchert Field. He signed a professional contract with his hometown Milwaukee Braves in 1956 and made his Major League Baseball debut as a catcher with the club in 1962. A below-average hitter, he finished with a career batting average of .200. He was generally considered to be a sound defensive player and committed very few errors in his Major League career as a catcher, completing his career with a fielding percentage of .981. However, in 1967, despite playing only 59 games, he led the league in passed balls and is still on the top 10 list for most passed balls in a season. At least a partial explanation is that he spent a good deal of the season catching knuckleballer Phil Niekro. He often joked that the best way to catch a knuckleball was to wait until it stopped rolling and pick it up. Uecker also played for the St. Louis Cardinals (and was a member of the 1964 World Champion club) and Philadelphia Phillies before returning to the Braves, who had by then moved to Atlanta. His six-year Major League career concluded in 1967.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of Uecker’s career was when he hit a home run off future Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, after which Uecker joked that he always thought that home run would keep Koufax from getting into the Hall of Fame.
After retiring as a player, Uecker returned to Milwaukee. In 1971, he began calling play-by-play for the Milwaukee Brewers’ radio broadcasts, a position he holds to this day. During his tenure, he has mentored Pat Hughes, Jim Powell, Cory Provus and Joe Block, all of whom became primary radio announcers for other MLB teams. For several years he also served as a color commentator for network television broadcasts of Major League Baseball, helping call games for ABC in the 1970s and NBC (teaming with Bob Costas and Joe Morgan) in the 1990s. During that time, he was a commentator for several League Championship Series and World Series.
As of 2016, Uecker teams with Jeff Levering to call games on WTMJ in Milwaukee and the Brewers Radio Network throughout Wisconsin, save for some road trips which he skips; for those games Lane Grindle substitutes for Uecker on the radio broadcasts. Uecker is well known for saying his catchphrase “Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone!” when a Brewers player hits a home run.
Known for his humor, particularly about his undistinguished playing career, Uecker actually became much better known after he retired from playing. He made some 100 guest appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. During one Tonight Show appearance Carson asked him what the biggest thrill of his professional baseball career was and with his typical dry wit Uecker replied, “Watching a fan fall out of the upper deck in Philadelphia; the crowd booed.” Most of his wisecracks poked fun at himself. He once joked that after he hit a grand slam off pitcher Ron Herbel, “When his manager came out to get him, he was bringing Herbel’s suitcase.” On another occasion, he quipped, “Sporting goods companies would pay me not to endorse their products.” On his later acting career, he commented, “Even when I played baseball, I was acting.”
Uecker also appeared in a number of humorous commercials, most notably for Miller Lite beer, as one of the “Miller Lite All-Stars”
Here’s a selection of some of Uecker’s commercials for Miller Lite:
Another one from 1988, promoting the Olympics: