Bob Uecker reflects on the passing of former teammates
MILWAUKEE - When you live a baseball life, you know people's heroes personally. When those legends pass, it affects you personally even more so, when they were your peers.
"First of all, Tim, it's always a shock when you lose friends and teammates, and over the last couple of months, spring training, February, it was Tim McCarver," said Uecker. "Dick Groat passed away a couple of days ago in Pittsburgh, and then today, Shannon, who was a great friend, teammate and a heck of a player, too. Last year, I got a couple of calls from people in St. Louis who told me that Mike was having a tough time. I mean, we're all going to go at one time or another. It's inevitable. It's still kind of a shock. I don't care how sick somebody is. When they finally go, it still kind of hurts you, and it brings back the memories of the good times. I remember a couple of years ago, he asked me to do a show after a game, and I did. He said, 'It'll take 15 minutes.' I said, 'Absolutely. I'll do that for you.' An hour and a half later, I was still doing the show, and he was gone. He left. He left me there to do the show."
Mike Shannon played in his hometown and later stayed in his hometown. He was the St. Louis Cardinals to many fans.
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Bob Uecker played in his hometown and later stayed in his hometown. He is the Milwaukee Brewers to many fans.
Like Shannon, Uecker transitioned from being on the field to being behind the microphone.
"To be able to come back home and then jump on the broadcast with Merle Harmon and Tom Collins back then, you know, I had never done any of that stuff before - play-by-play," Uecker said. "But I did the fifth inning, and they always sat with me, so I was comfortable because I could talk to them, but the day Merle Harmon decided to leave me on my own, we were at Yankee Stadium in New York, and the fifth inning came up, and Merle Harmon said, 'Here's Bob,' and as he said that, he and Tom Collins got up, and they were leaving the radio booth. They were going, and the engineer said to me, 'Bob, you better start talking. There's one out.' That was my baptism into broadcasting by myself."
Bob Uecker isn't by himself, but his baseball family is thinning.
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"When you lose a guy like Shannon, who was your teammate, you know, a guy that you played with, those games that McCarver didn't catch, the Moon Man, as we called him, was a really close friend," said Uecker. "Like I said before, it's inevitable. We're all going to take a Dixie one day, but to lose a guy like the Moon Man, he was one of those characters that you don't forget. I'll miss Shannon like I miss McCarver, Ray Sadecki, Gibson, you know, those guys you were close with. They kind of hang around a little longer when they go."