'Mr. Baseball' to present Carson Lecture Nov. 4

Bob Uecker
Bob Uecker

Bob Uecker, former Major League Baseball player, sportscaster, comedian and actor known as “Mr. Baseball,” will present the next Carson Lecture.

The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film will host the second Johnny Carson Lecture at 3:30 p.m., Nov. 4 in the Howell Theatre. The lecture is free and open to the public. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film Director Paul Steger and retired WOWT Sports Director Dave Webber will visit with Uecker about his nearly 60-year career in sports, broadcasting and entertainment. Video clips will also highlight his career.

The biennial Carson Lecture Series has been created to celebrate the contributions of entertainment icon and UNL alumnus Johnny Carson.

“By bringing those who knew or were influenced by Johnny to campus, the community can continue to celebrate Johnny's contributions to the entertainment industry,” Steger said. “The series is also a vehicle for students, faculty and the general public to gain a deeper understanding of the inner workings of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

Uecker was raised in Milwaukee, Wis. He signed a professional contract with his hometown Milwaukee Braves in 1956 and made his major league debut as a catcher with the club in 1962. Uecker also played for the St. Louis Cardinals (and was a member of their 1964 World Champion club), and Philadelphia Phillies, before returning to the Braves, who had by then moved to Atlanta. His six-year major league career ended in 1967.

In 2011, Uecker completed his 29th season as the Milwaukee Brewer's number one announcer.

Uecker was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2003, he received the Ford C. Frick Award, given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball.”

In 2005, Uecker's 50th year in professional baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers placed a number 50 in his honor in their “Ring of Honor.” He has been named Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year five times during his career and was inducted into the Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

His big break can be traced to a 1969 visit with bandleader Al Hirt, who arranged an appearance for Uecker on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Uecker became one of Carson's favorite guests, making some 100 appearances before Carson retired in 1992.

A versatile talent, Uecker's credits go beyond guest appearances and play-by-play. In 1985, he launched a television acting career as one of the stars of ABC's sitcom, “Mr. Belvedere,” which put 122 episodes into syndication.

He also hosted two television shows, "Bob Uecker's Wacky World of Sports," and "Bob Uecker's War of the Stars." He also appeared in a series of popular Miller Lite commercials. In one popular commercial from the 1980s, Uecker was seen preparing to watch a baseball game when an usher informs him he is in the wrong seat. Uecker remarks, “I must be in the front row,” which became one of his catchphrases. The punch line was that his seat was actually in the nosebleed section. Since then, the farthest seats from the action in arenas and stadiums came to be known as “Uecker seats.”

Uecker also appeared in the movie "Major League," and the sequel "Major League II."

His experience broadcasting Brewers games both on radio and television gained Uecker national recognition as he went on to serve as play-by-play announcer for ABC Sports coverage of Monday Night Baseball, the League Championship Series and the World Series.

Johnny Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, on Oct. 23, 1925, and grew up in Norfolk, Neb. He served in World War II in the Navy as an ensign before enrolling at the University of Nebraska in 1947. He received a bachelor of arts degree in radio and speech with a minor in physics in 1949.

He hosted "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" for 30 years, from 1962 to 1992. Carson earned six Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received Kennedy Center Honors in 1993.

In 2004, Carson donated $5.3 million to the University of Nebraska Foundation to support theater and film programs in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and to renovate and expand the Temple Building, home to the theater program and where Carson studied radio. In 2005, the university received an additional $5 million gift from the estate of Carson for endowed support of programs in theater, film and broadcasting, following Carson's death on Jan. 23, 2005.

The University's Department of Theatre Arts was renamed the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film in 2005.

- Kathe Andersen, Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/uecker