Father's Day (6/15/13)

BY KATIE UHLAENDER

Dave Frisbie eating at my dad's favorite steakhouse, Big Ed's
Charlie Manuel and me
My dad (Ted Uhlaender) and me

Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. It is a day that brings to light what a great father I had. It makes me really sad to think of how he is gone, but at the same time I was left with so much to celebrate him by. He was a great father, and had some amazing friends that have taken me under their wing. I seem to now have more than one father figure in my life, but they both knew and understood my dad in ways few people did. My father was a throwback in baseball and in life, and two of his closest friends continue to help me learn from him in those ways. Dave Frisbie was a great friend of my dad’s and was the reason my father got in to the cattle business. He is our neighbor on the farm, and is now my mentor and father figure. He has been teaching me about ranching, has supported me like my father did for my passion for skeleton and, like Charlie Manuel (former MLB player and current Philadelphia Phillies manager), has a million and two stories about my father’s crazy and adventurous life. Dave and Charlie have never had the chance to meet, but due to my father it feels to me like they know each other. My father had his career in baseball and his adventures as a rancher, and for me these were the two main aspects of his life, and when I’m on the farm I feel very close to him and have unexpectedly fell in love with that lifestyle. I am hoping to take over management of the farm and look forward to returning there after retiring from skeleton.

At the same time Charlie has helped keep me connected with the athletic and unwavering will of my father by taking me to games and telling me stories of his tenacity and determination as an athlete. I feel a bond with Charlie that way, because he knew my father in a way very few people did. It was the same way that I felt he understood me as an athlete and what it took to be one at an elite level. Sometimes it feels like he was a warrior who taught me how to go to battle, and being around Charlie who also understands that warrior mentality is almost like being around my father again.

Surrounding myself with people I know he loved and who share his same tenacity brings me closer to him even after he’s gone. Both Dave and Charlie know anything really worth doing takes persistence, perseverance and stubborn determination. Being a great baseball player requires real gifts, no doubt, but even the most gifted player won't make it to the big leagues without the tenacity required to make the long, hard journey up from the minors. Tenacity is the quality displayed by someone who just won't quit — who keeps trying until they reach their goal. This applies to baseball or life as a rancher; it doesn’t get any more American than baseball and ranching! I’m blessed to have two father figures that represent the best of both worlds that my father lived in, and give me real life examples of what my father represented.

As my brother and I wrote in his eulogy, Ted Uhlaender was: A man who lives above the clouds and always lands with both wingtips stead. Who leaves with his pole and comes back with a full stringer. Who takes out his over and under and comes back with his limit. A man who can use his .264 well enough to line up his crosshairs and split frogs hair at 500 yards. A man with great hands, a great stick and wheels from heaven, a true champion. Who never let excuses get in my way of success, and always wanted to share his passions in life – hunting, bird dogs and baseball. With most things in life, when it gets right down to it, heart is what it takes, and Ted “Teddy” Uhlaender definitely left that behind for all of us to remember.