Mark Tomasik of retrosimba.com, a great place to read about St. Louis Cardinals history, tweeted birthday greetings to Bob Uecker this morning. “Mr. Baseball” is celebrating his 80th today, January 26th.
Tomasik noted the former reserve catcher’s highlight as a player was when he batted .198 with 24 strikeouts and 21 hits for the 1964 World Champion Cardinals.
As I read Tomasik’s tweet, I was struck by the similarity of Uecker’s 1964 stats with that of current Cardinals catching back up Tony Cruz exactly 50 years later. Last season, Cruz batted .200 with 28 strikeouts and 27 hits for St. Louis. That .200 mark is the same as Uecker’s final Mendoza Line result accrued over his six seasons in the Majors.
Uecker, who had first come up with the Braves, was dealt away from the Cards following the 1965 season and finished his playing career with the Phillies and Braves again, this time in Atlanta.
Cruz appears set to remain with St. Louis for his fifth season in 2015, primarily because the club could not recruit a better hitting reserve to rust on the bench behind starter Yadier Molina.
Despite the apparent on-field similarities between the two backstops, it would appear to be a major stretch for the soft-spoken Cruz to try to emulate Uecker’s post-playing success.
The Milwaukee native has enjoyed a multi-faceted second career as a comedian, actor and broadcaster. In his latter role, primarily with the Milwaukee Brewers, Uecker was named to the Hall of Fame, has been honored with two statues at Miller Park and memorialized in the Brewers Walk of Fame.
Now there is something to shoot for, Tony!
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