On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon in Maryvale, with temperatures in the low 80s and not a single cloud in the sky, the Milwaukee Brewers were hosting the Seattle Mariners in the second week of Spring Training 2012. The game was tied 2-2 and the Mariners were threatening in the top of the ninth. True to form, the reason why so many people listen to Bob Uecker, the Hall of Fame announcer of the Brewers, is that at any given moment, he can be flat-out dead-pan funny. Today he did not disappoint.
With the bases loaded for the visiting Mariners, Bob, true to form explained the anxious moments for the home team’s listening audience with the bases full and only one out, he said. “Bases full of Mariners. And here comes Munenori Kawasaki to the plate. He owns a motorcycle company and is now trying his hand at baseball. There’s a fastball for a strike.”
To wit: it is not just during Spring Training that the curious mind of Uecker thinks about the bent side of life during some of the most precious moments in a game, it is his trademark. While his listening audience is doubled up on the floor, convulsing with laughter and shouting out to anyone close enough to hear, “Did you hear what Uecker just said? Did you hear that?”, the game goes on with a monotonous drawl which brings him to the top of the Wry Wit League of very, very funny human beings, and is repeated throughout the season with a different player on a different team in a different city but the same reliable funny bone bringing an immense smile to ones face no matter how dire the circumstances might be for the home heroes.
It could come, as it did when his good friend Bob Costas visited the booth one night during a time when the beginning of the football season crossed over the end of the baseball season which found the former Major League Baseball Game of the Week announcer visiting Milwaukee on his way to Green Bay. In what probably was just going to be a half inning interview, Uecker turned it into a nearly entire game running commentary about Costas’ love of old Milwaukee County Stadium’s favorite food, the beloved bratwurst. He gave out little known secrets of Costas’ devouring bratwurst after bratwurst every half inning while somehow telling the listening audience what the balls and strike count was. Costas in the meantime was trying to calmly explain in rational terms what Ueck was saying. It’s not unlike Vin Scully’s weaving of fact about a player while delivering the results of the action on the field and going right back to where he left off before the pitch was thrown. In Uecker’s style, he shares the same basic rhythm of the storytelling but deftly replaces fiction where fact may have occurred. The result is historic. You remember, line for line, word for word what was said. And when you remember, the smile that brought you so much joy once again crosses your face.
May we always hear, “Get up. Get up. Get outa here.” for as long as we live. It really is a home run of historic proportion on a lazy, beautiful afternoon.