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Tom Selleck wasn't no Mr. Baseball! Of course, "Mr. Baseball" is still Bob Uecker, and the man who made "Harry Doyle" a household name in 1989 in Major League still gets a "kick" out of broadcasting a ballgame as the long-time voice of the Brewers.

If you're headed to Milwaukee to check out Miller Park and the Brew Crew, bring along a walkman or headset and tune into "Mr. Baseball" on 620 WTMJ (AM) for the radio play-by-play. But before then, enjoy our candid interview with the former "Tonight Show" guest as he talks about his first time calling a game by himself - an event he revealed was "frightening."

You would think the man who called play-by-play on a renowned club with the likes of a Willie "Mays" Hayes, Rickie "Wild Thing" Vaughn and Pedro Cerrano (who can forget Jobu?) would have this announcing thing figured out, but that wasn't the case the first time "Mr. Baseball" was left alone in the broadcast booth.

"It was frightening. It's, it's terror," Uecker explained slowly and candidly, as if he was reliving that moment. "I mean, I had done Tonight Show's and all of that stuff before that, but that was nothing."


Indeed, Uecker made some 100 appearances on the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," performing stand-up comedy in front of millions - many, many, many more listeners than any baseball radio broadcast. Heck, he was even one of the stars of late 80's television comedy, "Mr. Belvedere," and who could forget those hysterically popular Miller Lite commercials he starred in?

I mean, let's face it, Bob Uecker made beer commercials cool! Those "What's Up" guys? Please! They couldn't carry Mr. Baseball's beer commercial humor jockstrap!

So Uecker "frightened" broadcasting a little regular season baseball game at Yankee Stadium?

"I had confidence before. I mean, I was doing stand up comedy, but just the fact that they left you alone doing play-by-play," Uecker explained. "I mean, you weren't telling jokes now, you weren't telling stories. I was doing play-by-play - that is what was frightening. The first thing that came to my mind was all of my friends back here (in Milwaukee) were listening saying, 'Listen to this idiot doing play-by-play, what's he trying to do?'"

During Uecker's first season behind the mike in Milwaukee he was paired with Merle Harmon and Tom Collins. Although Uecker occasionally was tasked with handling the play-by-play for a full inning before the Yankee Stadium episode, listeners didn't realize he was being helped in the booth.

"They would always sit there and I could talk to them between pitches and everything, which is a crutch. As long as they were there, I was comfortable," Uecker recalled. "But once they left, they figured it was time for me to do it on my own."

"I was just young in the business and I was in Yankee Stadium," Uecker continued. "And I was by myself for the first time. I mean, to be all of the sudden left alone in a booth and you�re talking to an audience and there's nobody else to help you feed off of? It was frightening, and I begged them to come back, but they wouldn't come back so�"

So the training wheels were off Uecker's broadcasting tricycle for good. And he hardly fell or scraped a knee.

Since then, Uecker's broadcasting has only bettered with age. Now in his 32nd year at the helm and as a former ballplayer, he brings a perspective to the play-by-play booth that few of his peers can claim. And because of that, "Mr. Baseball" knows when players aren't maximizing their potential. He's never been hesitant to bark or sigh at Brewers alike on the air who fail to get it done - when they should get it done.

"I look at things in a little different viewpoint then another guy might because I've been down there," Uecker said. "I've been in the clubhouse. I've been on the field. I've played. I've been in certain situations, or where you're looking at a situation where you've been in many times before. All of those things are playable and plausible as far as broadcasting goes."

And "Mr. Baseball" still gets a "kick" out of broadcasting baseball, even if his Brewers haven't won a damn thing since 1982 (we know, you can't say "damn" on the air). Uecker admits the losses can get to him in August or September, but heck, it's only baseball!

"To go to any ballpark, whether it's here or on the road, and you're telling everybody what's going on because they can't see, that�s all part of it too," Uecker explained. "To have played, as I said before, and then to come up here (to the broadcast booth)."

"You have to be excited if you're doing a game and whether the team is winning or losing you still have to be enthused and enthusiastic to keep the audience listening," he added. "You have to enjoy what you're doing anyway to enjoy broadcasting. Broadcasting is fun unto itself and then to do the game is enjoyment, especially coming from a player and being a player. Then coming up to work as a broadcaster I think is a kick."

Lasting kicks? Well, while the Brewers have lacked in pennant prowess, Uecker is still fond of individual performances and some of the great players he's been able to get paid to watch every day.

"Calling individual plays and to be able to work games where I mean, a Robin Yount, who's gotten into the Hall of Fame, and a Paul Molitor, who's going to go into the Hall of Fame, and all those players were here," Uecker said. "That's a big a kick as anything else."

Copyright 2002