Results tagged ‘ Hank Aaron ’

Tonight’s Robin Yount Ceremony at Miller Park a Special Treat for Brewers Fans

Robin Yount is perhaps the most iconic player in Brewers history.  Any Brewers fan can tell you how much he meant to the teams he played on and to Milwaukee. Tonight, Yount was honored in a very special pre-game ceremony at Miller Park that celebrated the 20th anniversary of his retirement as a player. Also participating in the ceremony were fellow Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Rollie Fingers, Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio and Brewers President of Baseball Operations Doug Melvin.

Yount, Aaron and Fingers (Getty Images)

Yount, Aaron and Fingers (Getty Images)

“Hard to believe it has been that long,” Yount said today.  “That saying ‘The older you get, the faster time goes by,’ I can attest to that.”

Yount’s 20-year Major League career was spent entirely in Milwaukee and he retired after the conclusion of the 1993 season.  His number 19 was retired in a ceremony on May 29, 1994 at Milwaukee County Stadium.

He finished his career with 3,142 career hits and was the first player to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a Brewer after being inducted on July 25, 1999.  Yount broke into the big leagues at age 18.  He won the American League Most Valuable Player awards in 1982 (shortstop) and 1989 (outfield), becoming the third player in Major League history to win that award at two different positions.

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By looking at Yount today, he looks he could probably put on a uniform tonight and go 2-for-3 at the plate.

“I stay active,” Yount said.  “I certainly don’t have any workout regimen, but I don’t sit still long.  My parents passed off good genes.”

The ceremony itself was definitely memorable. Seeing three Hall of Famers together like that on the Miller Park field was a rare opportunity and something the fans in attendance tonight will not forget.

The celebration included a presentation of an original painting commissioned to remember the occasion.  The first 30,000 fans through the gates for the tonight’s game received a poster of the painting that presented to Yount during the ceremony.  Doug Melvin presented a $10,000 check from the Brewers Community Foundation on behalf of the Yount to the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer).

“Robin’s contributions to the Brewers are far too numerous to list, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him back for this special occasion,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “His time in Milwaukee was marked by great personal and team success, and it’s an era that will forever be remembered as a magical time for baseball in Wisconsin.”

Yount's first pitch tonight. (Getty Images)

Yount’s first pitch tonight. (Getty Images)

Yount met with the media before the game at Miller Park and with all the news surrounding the recent suspension of Ryan Braun, the issue of violations of the MLB drug prevention and treatment program was a hot topic and one that Yount didn’t shy away from.

“I don’t have a comment on anyone individually, because you need to know all the facts and in Ryan’s case, I don’t have all the facts,” Yount said.  “Obviously this is a bump in the road for baseball, but I hope that maybe this will put an end to all of this once and for all.  Hopefully the guys that are testing the system will realize that maybe they can’t beat it.”

Yount continued to say what this all means for the game itself.

“It’s important to baseball that we get rid of this.  It is not something we want to focus as an industry.  We want to focus on the game itself.  This will pass.  There are no players bigger than the game.  It is not our brightest moment, but hopefully this will make the guys aware that they are not going to beat the system.”

For the 2006 season, and part of the 2008 season, Yount served on the Brewers coaching staff. He also spent some time with the coaching staff of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Although he has been out of coaching for over five years now, he sounded pretty secure in the fact that he enjoys his life as a retired player today.

“I loved every second of the coaching that I did,” Yount said.  “I really enjoyed working with the guys.  My biggest issue was that it takes so much time and such a commitment and I have a lot of other things that don’t have to do with baseball that I enjoy and that I would have to give up.  I’m just not willing to give up these hobbies and free time, but that is not to say I didn’t enjoy the coaching that I did because I really did enjoy it.”

So what does Yount do with all that free time?  Plenty.  In addition to his hobbies of racing and dirt bikes, he has “Robinade”–his “old-school lemonade” that supports the MACC Fund–and, his latest venture, part ownership in the Lakeshore Chinooks baseball team of the summer Northwoods League.

“It’s (the Chinooks) been great, I was out there last weekend and we are playing really well in a playoff run,” Yount said.  “Everyone is excited.  In doing this we are promoting baseball.  It’s not just about the college kids that are playing the game, but we also have college kids running the show too behind the scenes.  They are getting a taste of what it is like to be involved with a sports franchise.  Hopefully someday it won’t be a player that makes it, but it is a guy selling merchandise now that will one day work in marketing with the Brewers.  I just think the opportunity that is provided out there is a good way to promote the game.”

Like many of my friends who I grew up with in Milwaukee, Robin Yount was our hero.  He was a great baseball player, a great person and he represented Milwaukee.  Tonight’s ceremony was a perfect reminder of how lucky every Brewers fan is to call Robin Yount a Brewer.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

This Sunday is Hank Aaron Bobblehead Day presented by U.S. Cellular

In 1963, as a member of the Milwaukee Braves, Hank became the first MLB player to hit over 40 home runs and steal 30 bases in a single season. He finished that year with 44 home runs and 31 stolen bases.

Earlier this season, we celebrated Ryan Braun’s 40-30 season with a bobblehead and this Sunday, we’ll be featuring Hank in a Milwaukee Braves uniform for his own special 40-30 bobblehead and you’ll want to be in attendance when the Crew takes on the New York Mets to score yours.

You’ll notice that the back of the jersey on the bobblehead reads “H. Aaron.” That’s because Hank’s younger brother, the late Tommie Aaron, a first baseman and left fielder, also played for the Milwaukee Braves at the time (1962-1963; 1965). [In addition, Tommie played with Hank for the Atlanta Braves (1968-1971). Fun Fact: Tommie hit a total of just 13 Major League home runs during his career, but when combined with Hank’s 755, Tommie and Hank still hold the Major League record for the most career home runs between two brothers.]

For those keeping score at home, this will be the third Hank Aaron bobblehead that we’ve given away at Miller Park. The first was in 2002 and then in 2010, we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Brewers Baseball with bobbleheads from various decades and Hank was our honoree from the 1970s. Don’t miss out on the chance to add this one to your collection!

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– Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Brings Baseball History to Miller Park

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory “hits” the road with a traveling interactive experience created for Milwaukee’s Miller Park this weekend.  The exhibits can be found down the first base line on the Field Level and next to the Right Field foul pole.

The mobile museum will feature and number of Brewers related items including:

Hank Aaron’s 700th Home Run Bat

Fans will be able to see the bat Hank Aaron used to hit his 700th home run on July 21, 1973.

The bat Hank Aaron used for his 700th home run.

The bat Hank Aaron used for his 700th home run.

This A99 model ash bat is 35-inches and 32-ounces, and is one of the significant treasures in the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory collection. The bat is also signed by Aaron.

Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron

“Hold a Piece of History” With Bats Used By Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Geoff Jenkins, Rickie Weeks

A favorite with the crowds, “Hold a Piece of History” allows fans to hold bats that were actually used by major league players.  For Milwaukee fans, Louisville Slugger Museum  Factory will give fans the chance to hold and pose with bats used by Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Geoff Jenkins and Rickie Weeks.

 Roberto Clemente Game Used Bat

With the Brewers hosting Pittsburgh, an extra treat for fans will feature a legend with the Pirates, Roberto Clemente.  His U1 model ash bat from 1969-1970 will be on display. The bat is 36-inches long and weighs 34-ounces.

Bat Making Demonstrations

Louisville Slugger has been making baseball bats since 1884.  Another highlight of the mobile museum includes a fascinating hand-turning lathe demonstration that shows the “old-fashioned” way of carving bats by hand, using the same tools that date back to the 1800s.

Sign Ups for Free Museum Passes and Other Prizes

The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is located in downtown Louisville, Kentucky – less than 7 hours by car from Milwaukee. Louisville is a great weekend getaway, and fans will be able to sign up for free passes to the museum and other prizes.

“We’re looking forward to a fun weekend of baseball with the great fans of the Brewers. Our team has put together an interactive experience customized especially for this Milwaukee versus Pittsburgh series,” said Anne Jewell, Executive Director at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.  “Rarely do we display these artifacts outside of the museum and we encourage Milwaukee’s baseball fans to join us at Miller Park over the holiday weekend,” she said.

Visitors can experience history-in-the-making as you stroll through the factory where world-famous Louisville Slugger bats are created. Award-winning factory tour, newly renovated galleries with interactive exhibits, historic memorabilia, the World’s Biggest Bat, and more. Create a Louisville Slugger bat with your very own name on it, just like the pros. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, 800 West Main Street, is open Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Admission is $11 for adults, $10 for seniors (60+), $6 children (6-12), and free for children 5 and under.  For more information, log on to sluggermuseum.com  or call 502-588-7228.

Come see a piece of history at Miller Park this weekend and then make plans to head to Louisville to see the real thing!

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

42 a Must-See for Baseball Fans

Last night, I was privileged to attend a special screening of “42,” the highly-anticipated Warner Bros & Legendary Pictures biopic of the late, great Jackie Robinson, with a special reception for community leaders, hosted in part by Brewers Community Foundation.

42 Movie

The showing, which took place at Mayfair Mall’s AMC Theatres, was one of just three private screenings in the entire country. In addition to Milwaukee, the other screenings took place in Washington D.C. (hosted by Michelle Obama) and in Atlanta, GA (with Hank Aaron in attendance), also last evening.

The movie is scheduled to open in theaters on Friday, April 12, but I’ve got a review for you here, plus details on a play based on Robinson’s life opening in Milwaukee called Jackie and Me.

First, in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the 42 trailer to whet your appetite:

Although the movie is called “42,” referencing Jackie Robinson’s jersey number, this story is not only about Jackie—it’s also about legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey, whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball.

Because, in Rickey’s words, “There is more than playing. I wish it meant only hits runs, and errors-only the things they put in the box score. Because…a baseball box score is a democratic thing. It doesn’t tell how big you are, what church you attend, what color you are, or how your father voted in the last election.”

The movie opens in 1945 and chronicles Robinson’s journey from the Negro Leagues team the Kansas City Monarchs to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ AAA Club, the Montreal Royals and finally to his Major League debut on April 15, 1947 as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers (a date we now commemorate across MLB as Jackie Robinson Day).

I will warn you that there are a few scenes that are tough to watch—but then you remember that this is not just a fictional movie; it’s something that actually happened less than 70 years ago, and you think about how, if it’s so hard for you to watch, how hard must it have been for Robinson to endure?

That’s the feeling the filmmakers are trying to convey. And they don’t just want you to sympathize with Robinson (although that’s a key theme in the film)—they want to illustrate the type of man that he was, how primarily with help from Rickey, his wife, and a reporter named Wendell Smith, he prevailed in the face of the greatest of adversity and went on to not only break the color barrier, but become the 1947 Rookie of the Year and stolen bases champion, a six-time All-Star, and World Series Champion (1955).

Story aside for a moment, the acting in this film is just superb. Chadwick Boseman, a relatively unknown actor, gives an amazing performance as Jackie Robinson and Nicole Beharie, an actress of similar stature is stunning and gorgeous in her role as his wife, Rachel. And although I will admit that I had my doubts when I heard Harrison Ford was playing Branch Rickey (especially after reading this article), he surprised me with a very believable and powerful portrayal. The other actors in the film, particularly those playing Robinson’s teammates or rivals, also did an excellent job. Whether it was someone lovable who sympathized with Robinson and reached out to him; or someone despicable (and there are plenty), you could tell that each character and line of dialogue was specifically chosen by screenwriter Brian Helgeland and really (excuse the pun) hits home.

One of my favorite people in the story is Pee Wee Reese the Brooklyn Dodgers’ All-Star shortstop, portrayed by Lucas Black. His prowess on the field aside, Reese is also famous for his support of Robinson through the most difficult times.

Here's a graphic from the movie's Facebook page, depicting a powerful scene between Reese & Robinson.

Here’s a graphic from the movie’s Facebook page, depicting a powerful scene between Reese & Robinson.

In the movie he says to Robinson, “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42. That way they won’t be able to tell us apart.”

It’s a moment of levity and a moment of foreshadowing because, as you’re likely aware, each year on April 15, in an inspiring, league-wide effort, Major League Baseball teams observe Jackie Robinson Day. On this day, all players and on-field personnel wear the number “42,” in honor of his indelible legacy and commemorating the historic date when Baseball truly became our national game. This year, because the Brewers have an off-day on Monday, April 15, we’ll celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on April 16 when the San Francisco Giants come to town.

There’s also another Brewers-Robinson connection: First Stage Children’s Theater will feature the play Jackie and Me at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee. It will be performed April 12 through May 5 and Brewers Community Foundation and Rickie Weeks are serving as sponsors of the production. Tickets can be ordered online at firststage.org.

JackieAndMe_2012-13

Now since the Brewers had a game last night, unfortunately none of our players were able to attend the screening. However, in Washington, in addition to the movie’s cast and crew, Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals was in attendance on his off-day. He tweeted:

Likewise, some of the Atlanta Braves spent their off-day seeing the movie as well:

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I hope you’ll take our recommendations and go and see this amazing film. I can’t wait to hear what you think. Please share your comments/reviews below.

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

Sunday, July 7: Hank Aaron Bobblehead Day presented by U.S. Cellular

Last week, we announced that one of our 2013 bobbleheads is a Ryan Braun 40-30 bobble and this week, we’re following up on that with a bobblehead of the only other 40-30 player in our history—Hank Aaron.

In 1963, as a member of the Milwaukee Braves, Hank became the first MLB player to hit over 40 home runs and steal 30 bases in a single season. He finished that year with 44 home runs and 31 stolen bases.

We’ll be featuring Hank in a Milwaukee Braves uniform for this special 40-30 bobblehead and you’ll want to be in attendance on Sunday, July 7 when the Crew takes on the New York Mets to score yours.

For those keeping score at home, this will be the third Hank Aaron bobblehead that we’ve given away at Miller Park. The first was in 2002 and then in 2010, we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Brewers Baseball with bobbleheads from various decades and Hank was our honoree from the 1970s. Don’t miss out on the chance to add this one to your collection!

 The Hank Aaron bobblehead is also included in the following ticket packages:

20-Game Sunday Plus Plan

10-Pack Premier Plan  

3/22/13 Update: This just in!  A photo of the Hank Aaron bobblehead! What do you think?Aaron Bobblehead-Silo

-John and Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

Ryan Braun Named Finalist for 2012 Hank Aaron Award

Major League Baseball today announced the finalists for the Hank Aaron Award that recognizes the Most Outstanding Offensive Player in each league. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was named a finalist and Brewers fans can help him win the award through voting at MLB.com.

Before we vote, let’s quickly recap Braun’s season with some numbers:

– Braun led the National League with 41 home runs, 356 total bases, 108 runs, a .987 OPS and was tied for the league lead in extra-base hits (80).  He was also among the league leaders in RBI (2nd, 112), hits (2nd, 191), slugging percentage (2nd, .595), batting average (3rd, .319), OBP (3rd, .391) and stolen bases (T9th, 30).

– He recorded his second career 30/30 season and just the eleventh 40/30 season in Major League history.

– He became the only Major Leaguer with 100+ runs and 100+ RBI in each of the last four seasons.

Ryan Braun is a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award. (Getty Images)

Ryan Braun is a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award. (Getty Images)

Those are some fantastic numbers–numbers that certainly make him worth of winning this award.  Beginning today and continuing through October 16th, fans can vote for who they think is the winner.  Each Major League team has a finalist and finalists were selected by a panel that included Aaron, Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan and Robin Yount.  Fans are invited to vote on MLB.com up to ten times a day.

Prince Fielder is the only other Brewers player to win the award, winning in 2007.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

Uecker Statue Unveiled at Miller Park

All month long we’ve been celebrating our very own Mr. Baseball with photos, our favorite “Ueckerisms” and more all leading up to his statue dedication today.

In front of a crowd that included too many notables from the worlds of baseball and entertainment to list, his family, friends, colleagues and fans, Bob Uecker‘s statue was finally unveiled, ‘juuust a bit outside’ Miller Park.

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Music was provided by Doc Severinsen and his Big Band. Bob Costas was the emcee. Speakers included Mark Attanasio, Dick Ebersol, Commissioner Selig and Hank Aaron. Robin Yount sent in a taped message from Italy where he was attending a family wedding. The Mr. Belvedere cast was reunited. Hank’s wife, Billye, serenaded Bob with a beautiful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

And the laughs kept on coming. Oh, the laughs.

“My dad says that every time you make someone laugh, you add 15 minutes to his life,” Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio said, calculating that if that’s true, then Bob has personally extended his life by at least one year so far–or over 34,000 laughs.

Well, everyone in attendance and watching on FSWisconsin also extended their lives today as each person who spoke during the hour and a half long ceremony (including Bob himself, of course) had their own funny stories to share.

In his speech, Commissioner Selig called Bob “the best ambassador for this franchise” who “embodies goodwill, not only for the Brewers but for the sport of baseball” and today we were reminded once again just how fortunate we are to have him here in Wisconsin with us, providing the soundtrack of summer for Brewers fans everywhere.

Cheers to Bob Uecker, everyone!

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

P.S. For those who missed out, FSWisconsin will be re-airing the ceremony after tonight’s game!

And don’t forget–we also want to hear from you! On Twitter, post any photos you may have, or share your favorite memories of Bob, or listening to Bob. Send us your well wishes and congratulations for him. Coming to the games this weekend? Share your photos near the statue!  As long as it’s Uecker-related, send it to us in 140 characters or less using the hashtag: #Uecker.

Not on Twitter? Share your stories by posting in the comment fields below our various Uecker-ism pictures on Facebook, or email your personal photos to: JohnandCait@brewers.com (Subject line: UECKER).

To see our collection of Ueckerisms, click here.

To learn more about Uecker’s history and the statue itself, click here.

9th Annual Evening with Hank Aaron a Success

The 9th Annual “Evening With Hank Aaron,” presented by Brewers Community Foundation and the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, was held last night in the NYCE Stadium Club at Miller Park.

The exclusive event with the Hall-of-Famer, husband, philanthropist and businessman included a dinner with notables Hank’s former teammates Felix Mantilla and Johnny Logan, as well as former Brewers player Craig Counsell, now Special Assistant to the General Manager; a silent auction and a Q&A session with Hank hosted by Bob Costas, broadcaster with NBC Sports and the Major League Baseball Network. Each guest also received a professional photo with Hank, and a special gift autographed by him.

“My week goes from the sublime to the ridiculous,” Bob said in his introduction, referencing the fact that not only did he have the opportunity to interview Hank Aaron during the event, but that he will also be the emcee for Bob Uecker’s statue dedication on Friday.

The riveting interview touched on some of the adversity that Hank experienced en route to becoming the Home Run King.

Growing up in Mobile, Ala. Hank was told by his own father that he couldn’t be a pilot, something that he aspired to do as a young boy. “Forget about it boy, because there ain’t no colored pilots,” Hank recalled his father saying. When Hank told his father he would focus on baseball instead, his father told him, “You can forget about that too. Your only options are to become a school teacher or blow a saxophone.”

Hank didn’t let that stop him, though. And, when, as an 18-year-old, he attended a baseball camp with the Dodgers in Mobile and he was told, “Listen son, you’re too little, go home. You can’t play baseball,” he didn’t let that stop him either.

Coming up in the Negro and Minor Leagues, Hank started out as second baseman—batting cross-handed nonetheless—before he grew into the powerful home run hitter we remember him as.

And, even as his professional career flourished and he was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record, there were a lot of people who wanted to see him break it, but there were also a lot of people who didn’t.

“The two years that I spent chasing Babe Ruth’s record were two years that I don’t talk about much because I have mixed feelings about it, really,” Hank said. During that time, he received a lot of hate mail and his family had to be protected.

In spite of those barriers, Hank prospered and is, as Bob noted, one of the two greatest players living today, along with Willie Mays.

“So, which one of you was better?” Bob asked.

Without missing a beat, Hank said, “I was! I say that jokingly. We played in many All-Star Games together and he truly was a great ballplayer, no question about that. But when I had a bat in my hand, I didn’t fear anybody. I didn’t think that anybody could get me out. I felt like I was in complete command of everything. I wasn’t worried about playing the outfield. I could steal a base when I wanted to; I felt like I had enough knowledge of how to run the bases. I didn’t have the strongest arm in the world, but I didn’t make too many mistakes throwing from right field. I felt like my baseball career was second to none and I didn’t take a backseat to anybody. I just played baseball. “

Hank talked about his two stints in Milwaukee, the city that bookended his career.  He hit his first home run as a Milwaukee Braves player and his last as a Milwaukee Brewers player.

“This is the greatest city in the world. I loved playing here in Milwaukee… I don’t remember ever being boo’ed  here….I always felt like I was treated fairly in Milwaukee. I was one of the first players to come through the system from Eau Claire to Jacksonville and I felt like I belonged in the city. I felt like people appreciated what I was doing.”

Throughout the night, fans were treated to a walk down memory lane as names like Joe Adcock, Wes Covington, Warren Spahn, Don Drysdale and more were bought up in a conversation that spanned a wide range of topics like pitchers Hank enjoyed facing, his greatest rivals and regrets, and how Hank and Bob each initially fell in love with the game.

And, while Hank’s statistical record speaks for itself, when Bob closed by asking him how he wishes to be remembered, Hank said,

“Not for whatever I did in baseball, but as someone who cared about other people. Baseball came easy to me, but I felt like there were other players who were capable of doing the things that I did.  The most important thing is how I tried to treat other people. I’ve tried to live my life that way.”

And indeed, Hank is already living this legacy with the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, created by Hank and his wife, Billye. The foundation’s goal is to help children with limited opportunities and financial barriers develop their special talents and pursue their dreams.

All proceeds from the event benefit the fund and are administered locally to help children in the Milwaukee area.

A slideshow from the event is below. I hope you will join me in 2013!

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-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

To learn more about Brewers Community Foundation’s Evening with Hank Aaron and how you can support both BCF and the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, click here or contact Meredith Malone at meredith.malone@brewers.com.

We’re Celebrating Mr.Baseball with Our Favorite Ueckerisms & More All Month Long

Back in March, we announced that the legendary “Mr. Baseball,” Bob Uecker, will be honored on Friday, August 31 with a statue placed outside of Miller Park near the Home Plate Plaza.

Well, it is now August and we’re extending our celebration of Mr. Baseball all month long with photos, our favorite “Ueckerisms” and more across our various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

We also want to hear from you! On Twitter, post any photos you may have, or share your favorite memories of Uecker, or listening to Uecker, in 140 characters or less using the hashtag: #Uecker. 

Not on Twitter? Share your stories by posting in the comment fields below our various Uecker pictures on Facebook, or email your personal photos to: JohnandCait@brewers.com (Subject line: UECKER).

We’ll compile some of the best fan submissions and share them here on the blog.

An iconic figure for the franchise, Uecker has provided the soundtrack of summer to generations of fans listening to Milwaukee Brewers games on the Brewers Radio Network. His irreverent style and knowledge of the game are unrivaled and his talents have also been known to audiences worldwide for years through his work on television and film projects.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Uecker’s first Major League game and, while Uecker’s roots will always be in baseball (including six seasons as a player and 42 years as a Brewers broadcaster), his career includes an incredible base of performing and entertaining all featuring one common thread – he always leaves the audience laughing.

Uecker blasted onto the national scene as an entertainer in 1969. A visit with Al Hirt led to Johnny Carson booking Uecker for an appearance on the “Tonight Show.” The chemistry between Uecker and Carson was immediate, and it led to approximately 100 encore appearances. Uecker soon became one of the most sought-after guests on the Talk Show circuit as appearances followed on the “Mike Douglas” and “Merv Griffin” shows, “Late Night with David Letterman” and even a hosting role on “Saturday Night Live.”

Highly respected in the industry, Uecker was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2001 and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Hall of Fame this past spring.

Uecker’s credits go far beyond guest appearances and play-by-play. In 1985, he launched a television acting career as one of the stars of ABC’s sitcom “Mr. Belvedere,” which put 122 episodes into syndication. He also hosted two syndicated television shows, “Bob Uecker’s Wacky World of Sports” and “Bob Uecker’s War of the Stars.”

One of Uecker’s most memorable roles came as the anchor of arguably the most successful advertising campaign in the history of television – The “Miller Lite All-Stars.” For years, Uecker served as the captain of the crew that acted in spots promoting Lite Beer from Miller.

As a film actor, Uecker starred in what is widely regarded as one of the best baseball movies of all time, serving as a radio announcer in the film “Major League.” He followed that up with a reprised role in the equally popular “Major League II.”

Uecker’s national sports broadcasting experience included serving as color commentator for ABC Sports coverage of Monday Night Baseball, League Championship Series and World Series, and NBC’s Major League Baseball Game of the Week.

A former catcher who spent six seasons in the Major Leagues, Bob authored a book entitled “Catcher In the Wry,” a humorous look back on the years he spent with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. One of his career highlights as a player came in 1964 when he was a member of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Despite his national attention and success, Uecker has always worked toward helping others. His charitable efforts benefit many organizations, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Uecker will be the fourth person to be honored with a Miller Park statue. Hank Aaron and Robin Yount were the first to be recognized with statues that were unveiled on April 5, 2001, the first year of Miller Park’s existence. The first two statues were donated by the Allan H. (Bud) Selig Foundation. On August 24, 2010, Major League Baseball Commissioner and former Brewers Owner Allan H. (Bud) Selig became the third honoree when his statue was unveiled in an afternoon program.

The statue will be cast in bronze, measure over seven feet in height not including the base, and is being designed and produced by Brian Maughan, who (along with Douglas Kwart) also created the Aaron, Selig and Yount statues.

Specific details related to the statue unveiling & ceremony on August 31 will be announced later this month.

Please join as we celebrate all month long!

-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

Porter Reed & Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Honored at Negro Leagues Tribute

Yesterday marked our seventh annual Negro Leagues Tribute at Miller Park.


As part of the Negro Leagues Tribute, the Brewers wore reproductions of uniforms worn by the Milwaukee Bears, the city’s 1923 representative in the Negro National League. The team played just one season before disbanding but featured some of the game’s most influential men, including Hall-of-Fame player/manager John Preston “Pete” Hill. The Washington Nationals also joined in the celebration by wearing the uniforms of the Homestead Grays, which played in the Negro Leagues from 1912-1950.

As part of our tribute, we also honored two former Negro Leagues players,  Porter Reed and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson in a pregame ceremony.

Porter Reed is 90 years old and played as an outfielder with four different teams from 1946-1953–the Detroit Wolves, the Ligon All-Stars, the Omaha Rockets and the Houston Eagles. Porter was known for his speed and strong arm.  Prior to his career in the Negro Leagues, he served in the United States Army from 1942-46 and played baseball on the military teams while stationed overseas in Saipan.

“When I was a young man, there wasn’t much to do, but play sports. In the summertime, we played baseball and in the fall, we played football,” Porter told me.

His neighborhood in Muskogee, Oklahoma, though, really influenced his career.

There was a baseball diamond about 60 yards from his house Porter also noted that two men in the neighborhood played for the Kansas City Monarchs, which inspired him to want to play in the Negro Leagues.

Porter told me he doesn’t have one favorite memory of his time, but he enjoyed  playing all over the United States, against all of the different Negro Leagues teams. Porter played with and against players like Satchel Paige (more on him in a minute), Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.

It was an honor to speak to Porter, but personally, as a female, I was very excited to have the opportunity to meet and speak with Mamie “Peanut” Johnson. After facing rejection as a team member of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League due to race,  Mamie turned a negative into a positive by becoming just one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues alongside the men (the other two were Connie Morgan and Toni Stone). Mamie was a right-handed pitcher and utility player for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953-55.

“Where I came from in South Carolina, we had had nothing else to do when I was a child. Baseball was all we knew and we made our own baseballs with a stone, some twine and masking tape and that was our baseball. I learned how to play it pretty good when I was about 7 or 8  years old. The more I played, the better I got. The better I got, the more I wanted to play. And it just stuck with me. Baseball was just my thing and I enjoyed it and it was in mind as I got older that that was what I was going to do,” Mamie said.

Mamie moved to New Jersey and then to Washington, D.C. In Washington, D.C., she played sandlot ball with the men.

“One day a gentleman that was an old Negro League ballplayer asked me if I wanted to play pro baseball and I said, ‘Hell yeah! I’m ready. This has been on my mind for years. ‘ I was just at the right place at the right time. He sent me to meet the Clowns.”

Mamie said she went for a tryout that day… and the next day she was on the bus  to Spring Training.

Mamie, who compiled a 33-8 record, earned her nickname “Peanut” when Kansas City Monarchs third baseman Hank Baylis taunted her because of her small size.

I had read that Mamie received some advice on her curveball from the legendary pitcher Satchel Paige. When I asked her about this, she confirmed it, telling me:

“I met him and it was such a pleasure. I didn’t realize who he really was, that he was one of the greatest pitchers that ever lived, you know? I didn’t realize it because we were just playing ball and then-hey! It meant so much to me to know that he was that kind, to help me.”

When Mamie was asked if she struck out anyone with that level of notoriety, she said, “‘I struck out a whole lot of fellas” and named Henry “Hank” Aaron, also a former Indianapolis Clown, among them, as well as the Negro Leagues All-Star catcher, Art “Junior” Hamilton (who was honored at Miller Park in 2007).

During her career, Mamie was part of the Clowns’ championship team in 1954. Of winning, “It felt beautiful!” she said.

“”To be able to say you were an equal to some of the best ballplayers that ever picked up the bat….I am proud to say I did it and I did it well!” Mamie exclaimed.

“When you have something that’s in you that you want to do and you get the opportunity to do that, It’s a tremendous feeling and this is how I started playing Negro League Baseball and it was so, so  wonderful, I enjoyed it,” she said.

Following her baseball career, Mamie returned to school and became a nurse for over 30 years.

The ceremonies for both Porter and Mamie will continue today, beginning at 1:45 p.m. when they will be inducted into the Yesterday’s Negro League Hall of Fame at the Mother Kathryn Daniels Center located at 3500 W. Mother Daniels Way on the grounds of Milwaukee’s Holy Redeemer Church (COGIC). The event is open to the public.

In addition, the game-worn Milwaukee Bears uniforms from last night’s game will be available for auction on brewers.com starting at noon CT on Wednesday, August 1. The auction will end at 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, August 15. The proceeds from the auction will go to Brewers Community Foundation to benefit the Yesterday’s Negro League Baseball Players Foundation and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

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