Baseball took a hit on Thursday.
Ted Uhlaender died.
Put Alex Rodriguez and his lies and performance-enhancing drugs on hold for a moment. Ignore the accusations of a former female acquaintance about Roberto Alomar and AIDS. Forget, temporarily, about the dog-and-pony show that Roger Clemens has become.
The fact that those athletes ruined the dreams of many by proving athletic superstars are prone to the same stupid actions as the average Joe is a subject for another day.
Uhlaender was a superstar, too, but his stardom transcended a solid, albeit far-from-spectacular eight-year big-league career that was followed by a stint in coaching and scouting during the 50 years that he made a living in the game.
Uhlaender's notoriety came from his baseball career, which included time with the minor league Denver Bears in 1962 and again in 1965, when he led the Pacific Coast League by hitting .340. But it was in life that he excelled.
He was a friend, in the true sense, to those whose lives he touched.
The father of five, including a daughter Katie, who is an Olympic skeleton racer, Uhlaender was born in Chicago, raised in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and graduated from Baylor University.
In recent years, when he wasn't on the road scouting for the San Francisco Giants, he split time between a home outside Dillon, where his wife teaches skiing, and a ranch in western Kansas, where he raised Tennessee Walkers and cattle.
The impressive residence he built on the Kansas plains had a picture gallery that included a photo of Kaiser Wilhelm, standing next to his chief aide, who Uhlaender explained was his grandfather.
Uhlaender was a throwback, in baseball and in life.
His word was good. His work ethic was even better.
In the last year, he had been slowed. When he developed some vision problems last spring, he decided to visit a doctor, who discovered the 68-year-old Uhlaender was suffering from multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that requires stem cell transplants for treatment and can be put in remission but can never be cured.
On Wednesday, Uhlaender received a checkup at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and was told the cancer seemed under control. Uhlaender was encouraged enough that the Giants were actually making plans for him to get back out and do some scouting, as much for his mental therapy as anything.
Uhlaender, however, never received a scouting assignment. Late Thursday morning, he died of a heart attack.