For years, Bob Uecker has made a living as baseball’s funny man. He hung around in the majors from 1962-67, with stints in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Philly and Atlanta. In his post playing career, Uecker was the baseball Dean of self-deprecation. He had 14 career home runs and 74 RBIs in the majors and was always quick to point out that the MLB superstar du jour had those numbers in a month. He's still going strong today, at 78 years of age, making quips as the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers.
In a sport starving for more original entertainment, today, baseball needs a new Uecker to capture the imagination of a young baseball generation. Here’s the early favorite: Toronto shortstop Munenori Kawasaki.
Go to Kawasaki’s statistical information page and there is a dash, as in “-“, in the area that’s supposed to list his home run totals. Not to mention he's wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform and the photo is cropped all wrong.
But on-field stats are not why Kawasaki is in the majors. He is a “clubhouse guy” through and through. Teams need comedians and Kawasaki just might lead the majors in laughs this season.
His back-to-back postgame press conferences on Sunday and Monday are gaining steam. He reads from the Holy Bible of American baseball cliché’s (literally a small yellow notebook with clichés scribbled down), obviously taking a jab at his conservative hardball brethren. He takes pies in the face like a champ. And he always, ALWAYS, has to let people know “I am Japanese.”
Here are Kawasaki’s memorable monologues from Sunday and Monday:
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