MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers first proposed another Bob Uecker statue at Miller Park, he rejected the idea.
"I was under the impression that they wanted me to work up there," Uecker deadpanned.
"Up there" is way up there, behind the last row of section 422 in the upper deck, where the Brewers playfully dedicated another statue of the man known as Mr. Baseball on Friday. It was a nod to the Miller Lite "All Stars" ads of the 1970s and '80s in which Uecker would proclaim, "I must be in the front row!" only to get sent to the cheap seats.
They don't get much cheaper than this. The Brewers sell obstructed-view seats near the new Uecker statue for $1 apiece on game days.
"It's pretty cool," Uecker said after climbing the steps to meet his match. "I'll have to call the people who are going to take care of me when I meet my maker and have them come up here and look at the statue. I think when I finally go, I might want to go like that. Seated and above ground. That might be nice."
There was a serious component to Friday's frivolity. Statue designer Brian Maughan, the same artist who made the four statues outside Miller Park -- Hank Aaron, Allan H. "Bud" Selig, Robin Yount and Uecker -- included an extra seat next to the seated Uecker. Fans who make a donation to the Brewers Community Foundation and Make A Wish Foundation will get to take their picture alongside the likeness of Uecker.
Uecker made sure to mention the charitable angle on Friday afternoon, but the day was mostly fun. Yount and fellow Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers were on hand for a ceremony down on the field with Uecker's friends and family, plus Brewers players and front-office officials.
When Yount stepped to the podium, he looked around the quiet ballpark.
"Fifty thousand empty seats," Yount said. "What a ceremony."
Said Fingers: "I don't know how … you're going to get up there to see it, but congratulations."
The new Uecker statue is made of bronze, but unlike the others at Miller Park, has color effects. Uecker is shown wearing a bright blue shirt, tan pants and, as usual, a big smile.
He wore that smile wide in the Miller Lite ads, which featured legendary athletes from every major sport, including Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle, Ray Nitschke, John Madden, Dick Butkus and Joe Frazier. It was just one of the off-the-field endeavors that made Uecker a national celebrity, beginning with his more than 100 appearances on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson."
"It's been a great ride and a great thrill to be able to work here and to be allowed by our former owner, Bud Selig, and now Mark Attanasio, to get myself involved in all of these other projects," Uecker said Friday. "Those Miller Lite years, the commercials that ran for some 17 years, were one of the most unbelievable times I've ever had."
Brewers pleased with change to transfer rule
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was pleased Friday when Major League Baseball's Playing Rules Committee clarified the rule regarding transfers -- the act of a fielder removing the baseball from his glove after a catch.
With the implementation of expanded instant replay this season, umpires had been enforcing a much stricter interpretation of the rule. But that changed as of Friday, with the committee's determination that an out has occurred when a player has complete control over the ball in his glove, and if he drops the ball after opening his glove, it will still be ruled an out. There is no requirement to successfully remove the ball from the glove for it to be an out.
As in previous seasons, if a player drops the ball while attempting to remove it from his glove in order to make a throw, the umpire will determine whether he had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer.
"I like it. They did a really nice job of cleaning that up," Roenicke said. "We saw the highlights, and it looked like anything that was questionable was not going to be a catch. I'm really happy about it, because what was happening was ... if a first baseman catches a ball with nobody on base, a throw from the infielder, and he obviously catches it and secures it, then he's throwing the ball around the infield and he drops it. Well, [before Friday's clarification], it was maybe going to be a no-catch. I don't think that's what we want to do with this thing.
"Catcher, Strike 3. He catches the ball, comes up to throw it around the infield, and he drops it. Is it now a dropped ball? I don't think that's what they intended. It's the play, the transfer at second base, where guys are cheating a little bit when they're not getting it clean. So this today, at least what I read, I like what they did. It's the right way to do it."
Likewise, Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez was happy with the change.
"I think it was affecting baseball," Gomez said.
"I think it's a good thing," outfielder Logan Schafer said. "Luckily, it never applied to us."
• Roenicke indicated he would like to ease right-hander Brandon Kintzler into regular duty after Kintzler was activated from the disabled list on Thursday.
"He probably can't be one of those guys who's [pitching] back-to-back [days] right now," Roenicke said. "Hopefully we can get him in, then give him a day off, and get him back to where he'll be pitching how he was. At the beginning [of last year], we were careful with how we used him, but he kept coming to me and saying, 'I'm fine, I want to pitch.' ...
"He showed that he could handle it and pitched really well doing it. He's an important guy, but we need to be back to where we can use him back-to-back days and maybe sometimes three days in a row."
• Schafer, on the 15-day DL with a strained right hamstring, said he was already doing some light running and hitting, and was on track to be ready well ahead of May 3, the first date he is eligible for reinstatement.