Friday, February 5, 2010

Ted Uhlaender (#431)

Ted Uhlaender was an outfielder for 8 years (1965-72), mostly with the Twins.

He was signed by the Twins in 1961, and spent five seasons in their farm system before making his major-league debut in September 1965.

In 1966, Ted took over the starting centerfielder's job from Jimmie Hall, who had started there since 1963. (Hall then shared left field with Bob Allison, and was dealt to the Angels after the season for pitcher Dean Chance.) Uhlaender started 95 games in center, and played in 10 other games as a pinch-hitter.

In 1967, Ted's playing time increased, starting 104 of his 118 games in centerfield, and another 15 games as a pinch-hitter. He was a defensive specialist, playing between power-hitting Bob Allison in left and multi-year batting champ Tony Oliva in right. In 1968 he played in 140 games, making 127 starts in centerfield.

In 1969, Uhlaender was still one of Minnesota's top 2 outfielders (along with Tony Oliva), but his center field time was cut back to 90+ games. Jack-of-all-positions Cesar Tovar, who had been frequenting third base for the past 2 seasons, spent more time in center field than any other position in 1969, sending Uhlaender over to the leftfield melting pot that included Bob Allison, Graig Nettles, and Charlie Manuel (yes, that Charlie Manuel).

I guess Twins' management liked how Tovar played centerfield, because after the season, Uhlaender was shipped to Cleveland (along with pitchers Dean Chance and Bob Miller, and outfielder Graig Nettles) for pitchers Luis Tiant and Stan Williams. Uhlaender became the Indians' starting center fielder, and Nettles took over the third base job. Chance switched to the bullpen after leaving Minnesota.

For 2 seasons (1970-71), Uhlaender, Vada Pinson, and Roy Foster were Cleveland's starting outfielders. In 1970, it was Foster in left, Uhlaender in center, and Pinson in right. In 1971, they mixed it up with Uhlaender in LF/CF, Pinson in CF/RF, and Foster in RF/LF.

After the 1971 season, Ted was traded to the Reds for pitcher Milt Wilcox. In his one season with the Reds, Uhlaender was used mostly as a pinch-hitter, since it was tough to crack Cincinnati's outfield lineup of Pete Rose, Bobby Tolan, and Cesar Geronimo. Ted was the 5th outfielder (behind George Foster) and saw some occasional action in right field.

In 1973, he played for the White Sox' triple-A team in Iowa. He also played 25 games for an independent class-A team in 1976.

Ted passed away from a heart attack in February 2009, at age 69.

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