But there won’t be 45,000 people grilling brats and enjoying beer. Because, as Ueck describes, the realities of coronavirus forcing us to stay at home are too sobering.
“I’m more concerned with the well being of the country, of course,” the typically jovial but now-subdued Uecker shared in an exclusive one-on-one interview with Gene Mueller on Wisconsin’s Morning News Thursday, hours before the rebroadcast of the 2019 Brewers Opening Day thriller at 6 p.m. CT on WTMJ.
Joviality goes by the wayside with the news of eight deaths so far in the state from COVID-19, case numbers that approximately double every three days, 69,000 cases and nearly 1,000 deaths nationwide, and hundreds of thousands of cases and more than 22,000 dead across the world.
“There is nothing to do but get after it and take care of people.”
Uecker said he was extra excited for an early Opening Day on March 26, but then the pandemic truly hit America.
“When the news came that baseball may shut down, I don’t think any of us realized how bad this thing was going to be,” he shared.
“I’ve been around long enough for World War II, polio, things that came after that. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the devastation, the damage.”
He described how during Spring Training in Arizona, he witnessed stores “deluged with people, people fighting, arguing with each other over food, the sanitary items.
“Whoever thought we’d see something like that in our time?”
When Uecker woke up Thursday morning, his newspaper described it well.
” ‘No crowd, no peanuts, no cracker jack.’ Those are the things that really bring you back to reality,” said Uecker, who hopes for the day he can officially start his 50th season behind the Brewers radio microphone.
“I’m hoping we get out of this thing and take care of people, first of all. Then comes baseball.”
Listen to much more of Uecker’s memories of spring training during his life, playing and broadcasting career in your podcast player above.