28 April 2014

Now Uecker Is Always Charitably in the Last Row

The last row of Section 422 in the upper deck at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are under the pivot of the retractable roof.  These nosebleed seats which are obstructed by the support girder  which sell for $1 on game days have long been referred to as "Uecker Seats", referencing a funny Miller Lite ad in which Uecker thinks that he "must be in the front row."

Now there is a good reason aside from fanatical frugality for fans to choose to sit in the Uecker Seats.  Brian Maughan, a sculptor who has created four bronzes for the Brewers (including a "Mr. Baseball" statue of Bob Uecker) outside of the park created another bronze for the last row of Section 422 with Uecker.

The artwork depicts a smiling Uecker sitting down wearing a blue shirt and tan pants.  The unique aspect of Maughan's sculpture is that it includes an extra seat so that fans can donate to the Brewers Community Foundation and the Make a Wish Foundation and take a photo next to the bronze of the Hall of Fame Brewers announcer.

When the Brewers first thought about having another statue to Uecker in the ballpark, the legendary 81 year old announcer rejected it as he jocularly claimed "I thought that they wanted me to work up there." But it was a project championed by local media movie critic Gino Salomone, who prepared a tribute video for the event. 

Uecker quipped about the Terrace Level spot for the statue: "They had to make sure it was the worst seat."  But Uecker warmed up to the statue by intimating that when he shakes his mortal coils that he might come to rest "up right and above ground."

It is remarkable that a player who played only two of six seasons in Milwaukee (for the Braves before they moved down the Atlanta highway) and left the majors with a .200 batting average merits two statues at Miller Park.  That shows the esteem which Wisconsinites hold for Mr. Baseball.  His honest, happy-go-lucky, jocular personality serves as a great icon for the land of Cheeseheads, brats and brewskies for 43 seasons.

The wisecracking Uecker was one upped by one of his guests at the "Last Row" statue unveiling.  The ceremony included Brewer Hall of Famers Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers, current Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke, several current Brew Crew players, family, friends  et ali.

Bob Uecker [third from R] at the "Last Row" Statue unveiling ceremony April 25, 2014

The statue was unveiled at the top of Miller Park but the ceremony took place on the field.  This allowed Yount  to observe: "God, this is unbelievable. Fifty thousand empty seats. What a ceremony."

Despite the friendly ribbing, the Last Row statue is so popular that the Brewers organization limits access to the "Uecker Seats" statue during the game, so the obstructed view fan can enjoy the ballgame.  The statue is even covered late in the game and afterwards so that fans will egress from Miller Park. For now, pictures are only permitted in the pre-game.

Well, how about that. 

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