"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."
Uecker was always known as a minor leaguer with a major league seat on the bench. A lifetime .200 hitter, it was almost a farce to have him under contract. Please enjoy this expanded story about Uecker during his heyday:
Through the 1960's, the St. Louis Cardinals were a team to be reckoned with. Stars such as Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Lew Burdette, Tim McCarver, Dick Groat, and Curt Flood were mainstays under the Arch. Pennant races were common ground at the former Sportsman's Park, which was renamed Busch Stadium when Anheuser-Busch Brewery bought the team and purchased the stadium from the old St. Louis Browns in 1953.
Late September in 1964, the Cardinals were in the thick of a pennant race, after being down 9 1/2 games in the standings to the Phillies, (and would go on to win the World Series that year) in which every game was crucial. That day's game was tied after nine innings, and after both teams batted around in the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings, the visitors scored in the top of the 13th to take a one run lead. First batter up singles for St. Louis. Then the second batter doubles the runner to third. After two pop outs in the infield, the Cardinals were down to their last out with runners in scoring position.
Manager Johnny Keane had exhausted his roster at that point in the game, and the pitcher's spot was due up. He paced up and down the dugout before reluctantly pointing a finger at his only remaining option for a pinch hitter. "Uecker, grab a bat!", he yelled. Ueck bounds out of the dugout with great enthusiasm and starts warmup swings in the on deck circle.
Strutting up to the plate, he pauses, then turns to the third base coach for a sign. The coach throws his arms up as if to say "just get a hit!". Ueck digs in. The first pitch, a fastball, right down the middle of the plate. Ueck fails to get the bat off his shoulder as the umpire screams "Steeerike one!". Ueck steps out of the box, taps the dirt off his cleats with his bat, and turns to the third base coach once again. This time the coach is busy chatting it up with a pretty lady in the stands. Undeterred, Ueck digs in again. The second pitch, a fastball right down Main Street. Ueck again fails to take the bat off his shoulder as the ump barks, "Steeerike two!". Uecker steps out of the box, taps the dirt off his cleats and again turns to the third base coach. But he's not there!! Ueck then looks over to the dugout, and his teammates are in street clothes.
Thanks to the ever self deprecating Bob Uecker
Posted on: February 15, 2010 7:38 pm