Ex-MLB outfielder Uhlaender dies at 68

ATWOOD, Kan. -- Former major league outfielder Ted Uhlaender, whose daughter races for the U.S. skeleton team and is eyeing her second Olympic berth, has died. He was 68.

Uhlaender died Thursday after a heart attack, the San Francisco Giants said. He had worked as a scout for the team since 2002, and was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer last year.

He spoke with his daughter, Katie Uhlaender, by phone Thursday morning, shortly before she ended the World Cup skeleton sliding season with a silver medal in Park City, Utah. On the awards podium following the race, Katie Uhlaender said she raced that day to give her family a needed emotional boost.

At the time, she didn't know her father had already died.

Ted Uhlaender played in the majors from 1965-72 with Minnesota, Cleveland and Cincinnati. A sure-handed, fleet center fielder, he hit .263 with 36 home runs and 285 RBIs.

His health was failing for months, and Katie Uhlaender -- who competed in the 2006 Turin Olympics and is a favorite to lead the U.S. team into Vancouver next year -- said it affected her focus on sliding.

"All year I was feeling like my priorities were messed up, and I felt like I should be with my family instead of sledding," she said shortly before learning her father died.

Ted Uhlaender had been hospitalized for another round of chemotherapy, and doctors found a blood clot Thursday morning.

His daughter has since returned to Lake Placid, N.Y., where the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is based, and is training for the world championships to be held there later this month.

"She'll slide because she knows her father would have wanted her to slide," USBSF spokeswoman Amanda Bird said Saturday night.

Katie Uhlaender will leave Lake Placid on Monday to join her family for the funeral, which has been scheduled for Thursday.

Ted Uhlaender started out with the Twins, joining them too late in the 1965 season to be eligible for the World Series that October. He played five years on a team more noted for big hitters such as Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva.

Uhlaender was traded with Graig Nettles and Dean Chance to Cleveland in a package for Luis Tiant after the 1969 season. He was traded to Cincinnati for his final year, and ended his career with a pinch-hitting appearance in a Game 7 loss to Oakland in the 1972 World Series.

In later years, he worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees. He spent two years with the Giants, became Cleveland's first base coach in 2000-01 and then returned to San Francisco.