When I’m 80, I can only hope I’m doing as well as Bob Uecker. Goodness, that man has aged well. And not just physically, either; listen to a Brewers broadcast for even 15 minutes and you’ll hear his sharp wit on full display. More often than not, his verbal jabs are aimed directly at himself, giving the man a wonderful humility that makes him easily accessible. We in the Midwest love us some good self-deprecation, and Uecker is a master.
As Kyle Lobner rightly points out over at Brew Crew Ball, Ueck has become an institution in Wisconsin. His voice lights up the Brewers Radio Network statewide on most summer nights. His unique gallows humor (the Brewers have been terrible for much of their history) has become the soundtrack for generations of Wisconsin folk, fan and non-fan alike. Naturally, people wonder what will happen when he decides to call it a career. When he does, it will have been one of accomplishment, with countless Miller Lite commercials, TV and movie appearances, and broadcasting awards under his belt.
Ueck took the first step toward retirement late last week, announcing he will reduce his travel schedule with the team this season. Ueck will still call all 81 home games, but he won’t always be with the team on the road, particularly during west coast trips. I know the gut reaction to the news for many Brewers fans is panic; it’s hard to conceptualize a Brewers broadcast without Uecker. That will happen when one man is the voice of a franchise for over 40 years.
Yet, it’s not the end of the world, Milwaukee, or the Brewers that Uecker has decided to take a step back. I can only imagine how grueling the travel schedule must be for a player, let alone for an 80-year-old. If reducing the number of Uecker’s road games keeps him in the booth for longer, that’s ultimately a good thing. And it gives the Brewers and their flagship station, 620 WTMJ, more time to groom a successor to Mr. Baseball.
But for now, we’ll still have that delightful blend of humor and humility beaming into our homes for the vast majority of the season. I suggest that, for a least a couple games this year, you go outside, fire up the grill, have a few cold beverages, kick your feet up, and enjoy the summer with him.