When I made my first trip to Eau Claire 24 years ago, I thought it would be in my best interest to tune into a radio broadcast of the team that many Wisconsinites cheer for on the ball diamond. Little did I know that drive would make an indelible imprint on my interest in a baseball team outside of Chicago.
Growing up in Northern Illinois, I was a fan of Chicago sports teams. Whether it was the Bears, Bulls, Cubs or Sox, I followed everything about teams from the Windy City. As a youngster, I always wanted to be the next Brent Musberger, who, at the time, was the CBS-TV sports anchor in Chicago. Musberger later went on to national fame with CBS, ABC and now, ESPN.
By the time I was a teenager, I had started working in radio and often made fun of Harry Caray, the Chicago Cubs legendary broadcaster. I thought of the late Harry Caray as a loud, but fun-loving character who would mispronounce players' names, go off on weird tangents about fans who wore funny hats and generally sounded like he was half-way through a 12-pack of Budweiser.
But on my trip to Wisconsin in 1987, I found myself laughing out loud at the radio play-by-play announcer for the Brew Crew who I only knew as the goofy butler on the ABC-TV sitcom, "Mr. Belvidere" and as a frequent guest on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson ". Bob Uecker, with his self-depracating humor and great storytelling ability, is truly a Wisconsin treasure and a well-deserved Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster. I laughed with him, not at him.
Now, as a longtime West Central Wisconsin resident, I find myself split between my beloved Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers the same way I am a fan of the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. I cheer for the Packers except for when they play the Bears; and I want to see the Brewers beat everybody except the Cubbies.
As the Milwaukee Brewers continue their quest for the postseason this year and attempt to make it to the World Series for the first time since 1982, I am hopeful that Bob Uecker has the opportunity to be a part of championship baseball in the twilight of his career. After all, since former longtime Chicago Bears announcer Wayne Larrivee was able to call last year's Super Bowl for the Packers, it's only fitting now that Uecker's familiar home run call of "Get Up, Get Up, Get Outta Here - Gone! " is heard well into October. Meanwhile, Cubs fans are muttering the all-too-familiar mantra - "Wait 'til next year ".
REMINDER: There will be no issue of The Bottom Line next Friday, Sept. 2nd due to the Labor Day holiday.