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Sunday, July 7, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Major League Baseball

Between the seams: $1 'Uecker Seats' are best bargain in baseball

The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — The funny thing about the "Uecker Seats" at Miller Park is that they're always sold out — and almost never used.

"Dude, why are you sitting there?" asked a vendor who, looking around, quickly explained what really happens with the $1 seats: Pay the dollar and then sit wherever you can.

John Barnes, the Brewers' ticket director, admitted that when there's no sellout, there's really no enforcement.

The Brewers have sold out all 106 obstructed-view seats for each of the 122 games they've played at the retractable-roof stadium, site of Tuesday's All-Star Game — when the Uecker Seats won't be discounted.

Only 23 of those games were sellouts, so 99 times the Brewers have sold the $1 seats and watched hardly anybody sit in them.

"That's one of the great things about Miller Park, is you get inside and you can walk around the whole park," Barnes said. "You see a lot of people hang out in the bleachers or other areas. The Uecker Seats are driven by bargain hunting, not seat location.

"I suppose some people sit in them. Then, after a few innings, they find an empty seat nearby."

The Uecker Seats take their name from the old beer commercials in which Bob Uecker, Brewers radio announcer and baseball comic, gets chased out of his spot at the ballgame by an usher. Uecker then declares that he "must be in the front row" — only to find he's in the nosebleed section.

The Uecker Seats, on the fourth level behind the plate, offer a great view of one of two gigantic green I-beams that hold the pivot for the stadium's seven-paneled retractable roof.

Depending on whether the tickets are for sections 421 or 422, the fan won't be able to see the pitcher or catcher, or both, and maybe not the shortstop or second baseman.

On the way up, fans pass the field level, where tickets are as much as $75 in the front row, the loge level and the club level. On that level, fancy fare such as the Four Peppercorn Steak Sandwich or hand-carved corned beef is sold for $9.50.

But there's a bratwurst stand not 20 steps from the Uecker Seats.

Whenever the Mets come to town, a fan can holler down at long-distance phone pitchman Mike Piazza that there's something else that only costs a buck, too.

"They're really not that bad, but you're stupid to sit there on a night like tonight," said one man who plopped down $2 for himself and his wife, both of whom slid over just two chairs to $12 seats with a beautiful, unobstructed view on a recent evening with a crowd of 20,289.

For the All-Star Game, there'll be no such shenanigans — or bargains. The Uecker Seats sold for $175, same as all the other terrace-level seats, Barnes said.

For all other games, the Uecker Seats go on sale two hours before game time and are only sold at the stadium, not by phone or on the Internet.

"On bobblehead giveaways, we'll have people start lining up at 9 a.m. for a night game," Barnes said.

Said one fan as he stood in line: "It's the modern equivalent of the knothole games I used to go to as a kid."

As he walked toward the gates, his young son asked, "Dad, are we going to go all the way up this time to see the seats we bought?"

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