Bob Uecker is an institution in Milwaukee, calling Brewers games on the radio since 1971, their second year in the city after relocating from Seattle. 2020 will be Uecker’s 50th season in the booth, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic raging on and Uecker’s status as a high-risk individual (he’s 86 and has had both heart and cancer surgeries), he still plans on taking his spot in the Miller Park broadcast booth this summer.
Speaking to MLB.com, Uecker confirmed his intention to call Brewers home games this season.
“I’m going to do it from Miller Park,” said Uecker, 86. “I’ll do it in the booth with Jeff [Levering], and then road games, Jeff and Lane Grindle will do that. I’m going to be there and get tested just like everyone else. I wanted to go back to work. I’m glad to be going back to work.”
The Brewers also tweeted out the article with a 50th year graphic for Uecker.
The soundtrack to your summer will return next month as Mr. Baseball marks his 50th season as the voice of the Brewers and his 65th year in @MLB.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) June 25, 2020
Unsurprisingly, Uecker has had discussions with various people about returning to the booth this season, and will be taking precautions. He also confirmed that his decision to return to the booth this season during the pandemic wasn’t a rough one.
Uecker said he made the decision to return to the booth this season after extensive conversations with Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio and other club officials, including medical officials. He knows that it will be challenging to produce the proper emotion in a mostly empty ballpark, and he anticipates missing dearly the interaction with players. Like others in the press box, Uecker is likely to come and go from a separate entrance.
“No, it wasn’t,” Uecker said. “I thought about that, and so did the ballclub. I talked with Mark about it, who is looking out for me. … I know I am one of the older people out there at the ballpark, but I didn’t want to do anything from my house. … At least you can feed off the ballpark. There are things to talk about.”
In the interview, Uecker also showed off the sense of humor that has made him such a fan favorite for years by talking about wearing a catcher’s mask at the grocery store.
“I’m doing what everybody else is doing, and that’s stay locked down, shut down and wear a mask if I do need one. I went in the store a couple of weeks ago with a catcher’s mask, and they told me it was the wrong one. It helps when you get punched in the face, but that’s about it.”
That happens to him a lot at the grocery store, does it?
“Yeah,” Uecker said. “A lot of people are still living that saw me play.”
As Uecker has aged, his status as one of the most beloved broadcasters in baseball has only been solidified. Last September, Uecker took a rare road trip to Cincinnati to spend 15 minutes calling a Reds-Brewers game with retiring Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman. During Game 2 of the Brewers’ NLCS appearance in 2018, Joe Buck graciously stepped away from the mic for a half inning and allowed Uecker to take over the national call for Fox. We also learned a few months later that the Brewers voted to give Uecker a full playoff share for that 2018 playoff run.
Like many, I’m worried about a man in his mid-80s going to the ballpark roughly 30 times a year to talk on the radio. But hopefully, proper precautions will be taken and Uecker will be fine to call Brewers games for many years to come.