Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 8/31/12
MILWAUKEE As Bob Uecker stared up at his bronzed likeness, now immortalized just outside the walls of Miller Park, master of ceremonies Bob Costas asked him what he'd like to do with his new statue first. "Get my money back," Uecker deadpanned, in a way only the legendary Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster could. For months, Uecker had joked that he couldn't put together the money for a down payment on a statue that's why it hadn't arrived sooner. But in all seriousness or as serious as the 77-year-old broadcast can be Uecker took the stage on Friday afternoon in very much the same way as he always had. Quickly, in his own trademark self-deprecating style, Uecker's statue unveiling ceremony turned into more of a variety show than an honorary event. Costas, who has long been a friend of Uecker since their time working together on NBC baseball broadcasts, opened the event in a way few, if any, statue unveilings have ever started. "We are here somehow, for some reason, to unveil a monument to a man with a lifetime batting average of exactly .200, 14 career home runs in seven big league seasons with six different teams," Costas said. "This monument will stand in close proximity to that of true all-time home run king Henry Aaron. If you listen closely, you can hear Henry's statue begging to be relocated. "When word of this got out, pigeons all over the Midwest headed to Milwaukee to pay their respects. And yet we proceed to dedicate a statue to a man that couldn't hit the curveball, the fastball, or even successfully execute his half of an intentional walk." But Costas' act was only the beginning as guests continued to roast Uecker's playing career among other things. Home run king Hank Aaron, who had played with Uecker for the Braves, joked that he was glad he never took Uecker's advice, after the former catcher offered to show him how to hit a curveball. Former Brewer Robin Yount, who wasn't at the event, provided one of the biggest laughs of the afternoon with a video he had filmed in Italy to honor Uecker. In the video, he asked several Italian strangers if they'd ever heard of Uecker, as he wandered around Italy searching for his statue. "You've been around so long, you probably played here," Yount said, pointing at the ruins of the Roman coliseum. But time after time, as jokes were exchanged in jest of Uecker's playing career, the speakers at his statue unveiling circled back to one common theme that Uecker's 42 years as a broadcaster in Milwaukee have made him a transcendent legend and one of the lodestars of the Brewers organization and baseball in general. "For 42 years, we've spent Wisconsin summers listening to his broadcast," Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said. "The wit and wisdom of Bob Uecker is part of our community's collective psyche. It's unimaginable to spend a summer without him." But of all the guests who spoke so kindly and so jokingly of Uecker all afternoon, it was, perhaps, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig that best summed up what he meant to Milwaukee in the more than four decades that he filled up the radio waves. "Here's a guy who was born here, was raised here, and the fact that he's willing to stay here and devote his entire career is so meaningful to fans," Selig said. "You look at the great relationship he has with fans here, and that's why. He is them. And they're him." Uecker, of course, had a different reason for why he never left Milwaukee. "It was a parole thing," Uecker joked. Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
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