The moment you’ve all been waiting for, number one on our countdown of the greatest athletes-turned-movie stars of all time. If you’ve missed the first ten, you can check out numbers 11-7 HERE, and numbers 6-2 HERE.
1. Bob Uecker, MLB, Major League I, II, III. Baseball fans probably don’t remember Bob Uecker so much as they do Harry Doyle. Uecker, a former big-league catcher who played five seasons with the Milwaukee Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and Philadelphia Phillies, realized he wasn’t nearly as good a player as he was a commentator. So, in 1971, four years after his playing career ended, Uecker signed on to become the play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers, a position he still holds today.
Uecker’s broadcasting career allowed him to showcase a quick wit that soon landed him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and in beer commercials. Shortly thereafter, ABC producers came calling for Uecker’s talents, casting him alongside a talentless cast in the sitcom Mr. Belvedere. The show lasted five seasons, from 1985 to 1990, but played a bigger role in helping the ex-ballplayer make the jump from television to the big screen.
In 1989, Uecker co-starred in his first major motion picture, Major League. Playing the role of sharp-tongued Cleveland Indians broadcaster Harry Doyle, Uecker found himself in a situation quite familiar to his everyday job. With a chance to display a handful of his real-life signature calls and unveil the talents that made him one of Major League Baseball’s best play-by-play announcers, Uecker quickly proved he was a perfect fit in films. With a laundry list of memorable quotes in the movie, Uecker helped turn the baseball comedy into a cult hit.
After the success of Major League, Uecker was asked back to reprise his role as Doyle in 1994’s Major League II and 1998’s Major League III. While the plot lines in II and III didn’t pack nearly the same punch as the original, Uecker single-handedly made both films worth watching. And while II returned most of Major League’s original cast, III was an amateur production that featured Scott Bakula (of Quantum Leap fame) in a starring role and relied heavily on Uecker’s jokes to carry the story.
Of all the athletes-turned-movie stars on our list, Bob Uecker is probably the only one who seemed truly comfortable in front of the camera. With a remarkable sense of humor and the experience which lent itself to success in his big-screen role, Uecker took a short-lived playing career and turned it into a broadcasting career that eventually segwayed into a home run of an acting gig. Not bad for a career .200 hitter.
Our complete Top 11
11. Darius Miles
10. Malik Sealy
9. Dan Marino
8. Gheorghe Muresan
7. O.J. Simpson
6. Shaquille O’Neal
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
4. Ray Allen
3. Michael Jordan
2. Carl Weathers.
1. Bob Uecker