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Uecker Fan Facing Charges

July 02, 2006|From the Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — It began six or seven years ago, with a stream of flowers, baseball cards and teddy bears arriving in the mail.

The last straw came last month: a confrontation at a hotel pool in Pittsburgh.

Now Bob Uecker wants Ann Ladd to stay away.

The 71-year-old Uecker, the longtime and beloved radio broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers, has filed for a restraining order against Ladd, of Prospect Heights, Ill. Felony stalking charges have been filed against the 45-year-old Ladd, who was arrested in Illinois on June 22 and brought to Milwaukee.

On Wednesday, Ladd was released on bond and ordered to have no contact with Uecker, and to avoid any ballpark where the Brewers play. If convicted, Ladd could face up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Uecker, who has not commented publicly on the case, did not respond to an interview request from the Associated Press. Uecker's attorney, Andrew Wronski, declined to comment.

But in court documents, Uecker says that Ladd's "unwelcome contact is regular and increasingly aggressive," and the hotel incident "put him in fear of his physical safety."

One of Ladd's attorneys, Christopher Stawski, says Ladd's actions don't meet the legal definition of stalking.

"You have to show this kind of bad intent behind it, and I don't think what she did qualifies," Stawski said.

Court documents describe an unsettling string of contact and correspondence from Ladd, but there's nothing to rival a recent stalking case involving tennis player Anna Kournikova. Last year, a naked man tried to swim across Miami's Biscayne Bay to Kournikova's estate and ended up at the wrong house yelling, "Anna, save me!"

Given Uecker's image as someone famous for being not famous -- he used self-deprecating humor to turn a below-average baseball career into success as a broadcaster, beer pitchman and actor -- some people's first reaction might be to chuckle.

Who the heck would stalk Bob Uecker?

But Mindy Mechanic, a psychology professor at Cal State Fullerton who has studied stalking behavior, said no such case should be considered trivial.

"I'm sure it is scary, because you really don't know what that person is capable of," Mechanic said. "You don't know if they have access to a weapon. You don't know where they'll show up next."

Stawski said Uecker never had anything to fear.

"She's a baseball fan," Stawski said. "And like, I think, a lot of us, she enjoys listening to Bob Uecker on the radio. There was no intent, again, to harm him."

Stawski noted that Uecker "comes off on the radio as a guy who's approachable, friendly," and notes that Uecker often talks on the air about his interaction with fans.

"She just didn't perceive him as being so unapproachable as he apparently is," Stawski said.

The problem, however, came in the ways Ladd tried to approach Uecker.

According to court documents, Ladd began by mailing him gifts and items to autograph, first to his office at Milwaukee's Miller Park and then to his homes in Wisconsin and Arizona.

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