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October 12, 2018

Bob Uecker

Milwaukee, Wisconsin - pregame 1

MODERATOR: Bob will be throwing out the first pitch tonight.



Q. Every time the Brewers and the Dodgers play, we think of that funny story you told us about apologizing to Sandy Koufax for hitting a home run off him. I'm sure there's a lot of people who haven't heard that story, so could you kind of go over that one again?
BOB UECKER: Well, I did hit one, and for whatever reason I hit Sandy fairly well. I don't know why. But I did hit a home run against him in Dodger Stadium, and since then, every time I see him -- I don't know if he's traveling with the club now or not, but every time I see him, I always apologize because I thought it was going to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. And he doesn't like it when I apologize to him. He says, "Quit doing that. You're always apologizing. Don't do that anymore."

But he's been a long-time good friend, too. Great guy. Yeah, that was my home run experience against sandy.

Q. Bob, I was here with the Mets in the summer, and you came over to visit in their clubhouse, and the interaction with the players was tremendous. They really seemed to enjoy talking to you. How do you still relate to players at this age, and what's behind all that?
BOB UECKER: Well, I think for the most part they know that I played, and I think that's where the relation really comes in. I've been on the same side where you've got a 10-game losing streak. You gotta talk to the press. It's not sometimes the most pleasant thing, but you have to do it. And I know what that's like.

And, again, what I've done with my career, so to speak, to do the shows and stuff that I did, and they can watch it now and see what I did as far as making fun of things that I did. But I do that because it makes people laugh, and I like to make people laugh. And I've gone through that with my kids: "Why do you do that? Why do you talk the way you do?" To me it's funny. I don't know, it doesn't bother me.

As a matter of fact, the other day when we were in Colorado and Seunghwan Oh came into the game with his interpreter. And after they finished talking on the mound, I said that if I was a hitter here, I would probably face the interpreter; Seunghwan Oh would go to the dugout. But that kind of stuff, you know. And I don't know why I think of stuff like that either. That's another thing. (Laughs).

All those little things just come to mind. I don't know why, again. But to be around these guys that we have here -- and we've had some really good teams here and great players that have come through here. But per man on this club, nobody says "I" here, and I think that impresses a lot of people, impresses a lot of writers, impresses me all the time, that they're always "we." And there's a lot of "I" stuff that happened here this year, but no matter what happens, they're always "we." And they treat me like I'm one of them.

For a long time, probably 25 years, even more than that, I threw batting practice every day, on the road, here. I was with them all the time. I was with them more than I was with the broadcast people. I was with the players before, during, and after games. And you know, you become friends. You become friends with their family.

Robin Yount, for instance. Robin's kids, I've watched them grow up. Jim Gatner's kids. Those guys that are here or were here for a long time. I watched their kids and grandkids grow up and I see them, and I visit with them. There's no age factor with them for me.

Throwing out the first pitch tonight, I was going to take a Percocet and throw it in the upper deck. That would have been good. That would have been good for a laugh. (Laughs). But stuff like that, I mean, what's wrong with that, you know?

But the statue that they put in the upper deck here, it was from a great Miller Lite commercial that happened to be at Dodger Stadium where we filmed it, where I was supposedly in the front row and ended up in the upper deck at Dodger Stadium. Well, when they did the second statue here, I thought it was funny, plus it raises money for charity. You can go up and sit next to it for a dollar, I guess it is, and the money goes to charity. The only thing I asked was that nobody sit facing me. Just come up there and sit and take your picture and leave.

But all that stuff, it's good for the club, it's good for fans. It's something that fans like. I never changed. I mean, my M.O. has never changed from the time I started here, and I don't care what I did. Anything other than baseball was, you know, a "Ha, Ha, Ha." This was always No. 1 for me. I never wanted to leave here. And had the opportunity to do the network stuff and work with some of the great guys in the game, Al Michaels and Bob Costas.

But I always wanted to come back here. I love doing radio. I always have. And that would never change for me, never. And when Bud Selig brought me back here in 1971, and there were a couple of things that could have changed my time here, opportunities that I had outside of baseball to do: The television stuff, Mr. Belvedere, the Miller Lite commercials. Pabst was our big sponsor at that time, and for me to do a Miller Lite spot was totally out of whack.

And after the fourth time that they asked me to do it, I went and talked to Bud, and I told them that if the Brewers didn't let me do that or want me to do it, then I would go someplace else. And the same thing with Mr. Belvedere, because I had to leave here two weeks before the end of the season to go out and get a couple of shows. But I would do that. I would fly there and do the show and then fly back to wherever the Brewers were.

There were Tonight Shows where I took the players with me. We were playing over in Anaheim. I would get on a helicopter and go over to the Tonight Show, do the show and then fly back to Anaheim to continue the game. But I did that all the time. I would fly overnight to LA, do the show and then get a red eye and come back. And it was no big deal. It was something that I wanted to do and Bud graciously, you know, he let me do it. Otherwise I'd have left. So he didn't have much of a choice. (Laughs).

But I'm glad I never came to that point that I had to make a decision to leave here. But everything, he was always for it, Buddy was.

Q. Bob, a couple of years ago there was an online fan movement to get you to call the World Series when the Indians were in it. Now that the Brewers are this close, do you anticipate anything like that, or do you look forward to potentially having the opportunity to have the Brewers and be able to call it there?
BOB UECKER: You know, from the movie Major League, right, the three that I did, the third one stunk. It was really bad. I could have played in that one. (Laughs).

But, no, when they called to ask me about coming and doing the Cleveland and Cubs series, World Series, and they kept referring to Major League, right? The World Series is for real. I don't want to do nothing to the World Series that's going to make fun of the World Series. And I talked with Joe Buck, who's a long-time friend, and he said, why don't you just come and sit in for a while. Well, I thought that, depending on who won, the Indians fans would be mad if I did it and the Cubs won, and vice versa with the Cubs fans.

I went there a couple of years ago and they had Harry Doyle night at the ballpark, and I had to throw out the first pitch. And you know, it was a big night in Cleveland. It was fun. And I had to tell the catcher, you know, I'm telling you where I'm going to throw it. I gotta throw it outside, just keep it outside, right? Which I did. But I didn't want to do anything that would make fun of the World Series, and I thought Major League, despite the fact that it was, you know, a lot of fun to do and everything, it was not the right place for me to be and to do any kind of play-by-play.

And when I talked to Joe about it, I said, look, this is none of my doing because there was a lot of people that wanted me to go there and do some of the play-by-play. And I told Joe this has nothing to do with anything about me or anything else. I am not going to do that. I would never do something like that. The movie was a movie and the World Series is the World Series. Yeah.

Q. Bob, would you like your legacy to be as a player, an announcer, an actor, entertainer? How do you want people to remember you?
BOB UECKER: Well, I've already made a deal with Mark Attanasio once I pass on, to bring me back here every five years, around the warning track and then make sure they take me back to the same place. (Laughs).

There is no legacy as far as any of them go, you know. Honestly, when I first started doing baseball games, I never did any play-by-play. I never did anything. I had done Tonight Shows. I started that in 1969. I never did any play-by-play. Buddy brought me back here and I worked with Merle Harmon and Tom Collins, two great guys. My crutch was that I worked one inning, and they always sat with me. So I did play-by-play for the fifth inning, but I always had them on either side of me as a crutch.

Well, the day they let me go by myself was at Yankee stadium, and it was my fifth inning, and Merle Harmon introduced me and they both got up and left, and I was by myself. And I begged them to come back. I don't know if any of you remember old Yankee Stadium in the press box there, in the press row, but they were up there and looking at me, and I begged them to come back, and they wouldn't come back. And the engineer -- this is a true story -- finally told me, "You better start talking, there's one out." And I had never done anything before like that.

The Tonight Shows and doing that stuff was easy. Doing play-by-play -- because I kept thinking about my friends here in Milwaukee, guys that I grew up with, listening to the game and here I am doing play-by-play, you know. And what they were thinking -- that's what I was thinking, what they thought of me. Not the audience, all my friends, how can this guy be doing play-by-play, and they wouldn't come back. And they didn't come back.

And from then on, I did the fifth inning all by myself. And then after about a month of that, they finally sat with me and talked to me during the fifth inning. But that was a rude awakening. I'm really -- because I had done -- and again, I'm just telling you all the stuff that I'd done, colleges, you know, go on stage in front of 2,000 kids, and the more they laughed -- because I didn't talk. The more they laughed, I keep looking, what the hell you laughing at because I haven't talked yet.

That's the way it was with baseball. I could go down on the field. I threw batting practice, as I said before, every day. I'd get dressed, then I'd go upstairs. I didn't have to do any pregame shows at that time. So that's what I did. But that was frightening to do play-by-play alone was really, really tough.

The Tonight Show, the first time in New York before they moved, and when I got back stage, I was standing there, and the guy that opens the curtain is still there. And now I'm ready to go on, I'm thinking, what the hell are you doing here? You know, you had -- everything's fine. What do you start this stuff for. And I'd never done any kind of TV, that kind of TV.

I was fortunate in my days in Atlanta to meet Al Hirt, one of the great trumpeters in the world. And I did a show for him one night, and he told me that he was going to get me on the Tonight Show. I said oh, yeah, really. And about two weeks later, they called and I went to New York, and the guy said, "What do you do."

"I don't do nothing. Make up these stories." (Laughs). He said, "Okay, can you come back in two weeks."

I said, "Yeah, sure." That's exactly what happened. What do you do? I said, I don't do nothing. Just talk, you know. And the first show I ever did with Johnny, first time, at the end of the show as -- he and Ed McMahon always said good night to the guests, shake hands and say good night. And he said good night to me and Ed said good night. And as I was walking away, I heard Johnny said to Ed, did that guy really play baseball. (Laughs). That's a true story. And Ed McMahon said I think so. And I went back two weeks later. They had me back two weeks later.

And I mean, that's the way it always was. I would do four or five shows a year for all those years. And he treated me unbelievably great. Tonight Show people were unbelievably nice to me. And I always had a good time.

MODERATOR: Mr. Baseball, we wish you the best of luck, and we thank you for your time tonight.

BOB UECKER: I appreciate it. You bet.

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