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Thank You, Charlie (8/18/13)

BY KATIE UHLAENDER

Charlie Manuel and my father, Ted Uhlaender, played major league baseball together and stayed lifelong friends. Charlie is a man that my father spoke of often. Charlie and my father shared a special bond and understanding about life that everyone should aspire to have. Charlie is a man that understands sport better than most, and has more knowledge and passion for the game of baseball than is probably comprehensible for someone that didn't play the game. I truly believe if he was able to manage the game the way he envisioned, his team would rarely lose. I feel his managerial record of 1,000 wins (780 of those with the Phillies) speaks for itself, but for me it goes beyond that. This is a man that my father spoke highly of, and often with a smile on his face. Charlie and his wife Missy were kind enough to keep me linked to the professional world of baseball, and my father after he passed away, through spending time with me. Hanging with Charlie and hearing his stories was like I was hanging with my dad again. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to see the passion for sport I know my father and he shared, alive and in action with Charlie. I see without a doubt how these two men became such great friends. Charlie is, and my father was, a warrior. They are men that embody qualities of strength, courage and determination. They have causes to serve, battles to be won, and they value loyalty and hard work more than anything. They are men of a generation that understand what being a hero is, and what it takes to win those battles they face with dignity. The men of baseball from the era my father and Charlie played are the type of athletes that inspired me. I hope baseball continues to remember athletes like Charlie, my father, Billy Martin, Johnny Bench, Gorge Foster, Tony Oliva... and the list goes one. These were the athletes who represented true grit and the way of the warrior.

Some may say they are from the traditionalist generation, but to me it's a generation that continues to inspire and instill values that we should all strive to have. Charlie proved this on August 16, when he faced being fired by a team he has spent almost a decade with. He was quoted saying, "I never quit nothin'. And I didn't resign." Charlie is a warrior and would fight for his team to the end. His wife Missy sid it best: "With all that is wrong in baseball these days, this lifer, who lost the thing he loved the most today, represents what is right — the passion and the will to go out there every day with the idea of winning. To play the game hard, play it right, make no excuses, and have fun. I want to thank all our friends, family and colleagues who have spoken out so kindly, and with so much love and support today and who recognize what it is about Charlie that makes him a winner. He is in life, as he is in baseball — he gives all he's got. We're all better for knowing him. That is the truth."

That will she speaks of to go out and play hard, to make no excuses, and never quit in the face of defeat is the spirit of a true warrior. It is the same spirit that has inspired me to become an Olympian, and she is right, we are all better for knowing him for that reason. He embodies what I strive to do as an Olympian — inspire others to be warriors like he and my father have. Thank you, Charlie, for once again showing me how to be a warrior.