MILWAUKEE -- Bob Uecker realized a childhood dream in 1954, when he signed his first professional contract with his hometown Milwaukee Braves for $3,000. "That bothered my dad at the time because he didn't have that kind of dough to pay out," Uecker said. "But he eventually scraped it up." Thank goodness Uecker's Major League career was famously average, because it led Uecker to the broadcast booth and then to advertising, television and film, where he has elicited chuckles around the world with his deadpan delivery of one-liners.
Uecker, 75 and in his 40th season as the Brewers' radio voice, was in a more somber mood on Tuesday, when he announced that he would need heart surgery on Friday and would miss the next 10-12 weeks of games. But in a packed news conference that included reporters, front office officials and a half-dozen concerned Brewers players, Uecker once again made 'em laugh. "A lot of you don't know, some of you do," he began, uncharacteristically quiet and somber. "I have been added to the active roster by the team." Cue the laugh track, something that has been following Mr. Baseball for decades. Here's wishing Uecker a speedy recovery to the broadcast booth, and in the meantime, here are some of our favorites from his book of quips: -- "A .200 lifetime batting average in the Major Leagues tied me with another sports great averaging 200 or better in a 10-year period -- Don Carter, one of our top bowlers." -- On his family: "I'd take them to a game and they would want to come back with a different player." -- On his role with the world champion Cardinals in 1964: "The Cardinals' GM at that time asked me if I would do him and the Cardinals a favor. I said I would and he said we'd like to inject you with hepatitis. We need to bring an infielder up." -- "I had a great shoe contract and glove contract with a company who paid me a lot of money never to be seen using their stuff." -- "People have asked me a lot of times, because I didn't hit a lot, how long a dozen bats would last me. Depending on the weight and model I was using at that time -- I would say eight to 10 cookouts." -- "When the Braves were going to release me ... it's a tough time for a manager, for your family, for the player to be told that you are never going to play the game again. And I can remember walking into the clubhouse that day and Lumen Harris, who was the Braves manager, came up to me and said there were no visitors allowed." -- "How do you catch a knuckleball? Wait until it stops rolling, then go to the backstop and pick it up." -- "You know, I was once named Minor League Player of the Year. Unfortunately, I had been in the Majors for two years at the time." -- "I set records that will never be equaled. In fact, I hope 90 percent of them don't even get printed." -- "Juuuuust a bit outside." - As Harry Doyle in the 1989 film "Major League." -- "Get up, get up, get out of here! Gone!" -- Uecker's signature home-run call, which hangs in lights above left field at Miller Park -- "The biggest thrill a ballplayer can have is when your son takes after you. That happened when my Bobby was in his championship Little League game. He really showed me something. Struck out three times. Made an error that lost the game. Parents were throwing things at our car and swearing at us as we drove off. Gosh, I was proud."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.