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Bob Uecker will call Milwaukee Brewers home games in delayed season


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USA TODAY

Thirty games with Bob Uecker in the radio booth certainly beats no games.

That’s the way the Milwaukee Brewers and their broadcast legend saw it when agreeing that Uecker would call the 30 home games played at Miller Park during the 60-game season delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic that will begin near the end of July.

“Even in a pandemic where everything in the world is upside down, it figures that the one constant is Bob Uecker,” said Tyler Barnes, the Brewers vice president for communications.

There will be no fans in the stands — at least not when play resumes — but those accustomed to listening on the radio will again hear Uecker’s familiar voice, accompanied by Jeff Levering. When the Brewers are on the road, Levering and Lane Grindle will call the games, either on site or in Milwaukee, with details still being worked out.

It will be the 50th season in the Brewers’ radio booth for Uecker, 86, who began calling games in the team’s second year in 1971. Barnes confirmed that Uecker will call home games only but that really is not a departure from recent seasons, when “Mr. Baseball” seldom accompanied the team on road trips.

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During a May interview with the Journal Sentinel, when the game was shut down by the pandemic with no agreement in sight to put MLB teams back on the field, Uecker said he wasn’t sure he’d be allowed to call games at Miller Park in a delayed season.

“I don’t even know if we’ll be allowed back in the ballpark,” he said then. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. It might just be the TV people. We already know there probably won’t be fans. Who knows how this will go?”

For many weeks, it appeared there would be no games — and therefore no broadcasts by Uecker — as players and owners argued over the financial terms to return to the field. With no settlement in sight, and time growing short to get started, baseball commissioner Robert Manfred on Monday exercised his right to implement a 60-game season for 2020.

Uecker qualifies as an at-risk person for COVID-19, considering his age and health history, including a couple of heart procedures and other chronic ailments. But after discussing it with club officials, he made it clear he wanted to do the home games on-site, not from a home studio.  

“I thought about that, and so did the ball club,” Uecker told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “I talked with (principal owner) Mark (Attanasio), 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.”

Uecker has called the fourth-most games on radio in MLB history, trailing the retired Vin Scully (67 years), another Dodgers icon, 84-year-old Jaime Jarrin (62 years and running); and Kansas City’s Denny Mattews (52 years and still active).

In the interview in May, Uecker made it clear he still loved calling games over the radio, with no plans for retiring.

“I’ve said it many times. I would never stay on the air if I was embarrassing the team,” he said. “I would never do that, just to stay on the air. But I still enjoy doing the broadcasts.”

In an unprecedented, shortened, delayed season to be played during a pandemic without fans in the stands, the Brewers can still count on their franchise icon to provide some semblance of normality.

Follow the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Tom Haudricourt on Twitter @Haudricourt.

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