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Feast of Uecker, Patron Saint of Failed Endeavors

Today we celebrate the life of Bob Uecker, as part of our long-neglected feast-day series.

Uecker, Patron Saint of Failed Endeavors

Life: Over six seasons and more than 800 plate appearances, Bob Uecker was a precisely replacement-level catcher for the Braves, Cardinals, and Phillies. After his playing career, he was hired by the Brewers as a scout — and has been described by then-owner Bud Selig as the “worst scout I (Selig) ever had.” Since 1971, he has been the radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers — a platform he utilizes to celebrate the relative merits of American beer and encased meats.

Spiritual Exercise: The ethical mandate “Know thyself” is more or less as old as the Western intellectual tradition, attributed alternately to Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Socrates, and others. The sense is also preserved by Epictetus, who writes in his Discourses (II.6): “It is good to be clear about the level of your talent… Don’t pretend you have a particular skill if you don’t.”

Uecker’s greatest strength is his capacity not just for acknowledging, but celebrating, his weaknesses. Ask yourself what your weaknesses are. Instead of fleeing from them, become intimate with them, buy them some drinks, introduce them to your work friends.

A Prayer for Bob Uecker

Bob Uecker!
During a 1979 appearance
on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,
millions watched as you resuscitated
a dying man using only
half a Miller Lite
and some grainy images of Bo Derek
eating poutine sensually.

In German, I’ve learned, Uecker is a noun
meaning “one who impregnates women
competitively and is celebrated as a god
for doing so” — is that true?

A medical doctor I know said you
suffer no effects of gout but have
transmitted it to dozens of partners
sexually — is that even possible?

Mr. Uecker! you’ve inspired generations
to find a synonymn for alcoholic.
As part of your philanthropic efforts,
you’ve dedicated both time and energy
to constructing more clever phrases
in the vein of “liquid panty remover.”

Bob Uecker!
Everyday in this country,
men are eulogized blandly
for selflessness.

You teach us, rather,
that being oneself entirely
is a far greater virtue.