Ryan Freel Passes

Former major leaguer Ryan Freel passed away yesterday at age 36, apparently as a result of a self-inflicted shotgun wound.  He reportedly leaves behind a wife and three daughters.

Freel played mainly for the Reds and was one of those relatively rare players who had a successful major league career although he did not establish himself as a major league player until age 27.  Freel was a jack-of-all-trades who played every position except pitcher, catcher and shortstop at the major league level.  He was also a good top-of-the-order hitter, retiring with a career .354 on-base percentage and stealing 143 bases with a nearly 75% success rate.  He retired in 2010.

At present, the reasons for Freel’s apparent decision to take his own life are unknown.  Reports state that he had been named as coach of the baseball team for St. Joseph Academy, a Catholic High School in St. Augustine, Florida, near Freel’s home town of Jacksonville, in late June this year.  However, Freel later turned down the position.

Freel was a free spirit who played hard to the point of recklessness, sometimes crashing into fences and other players.  After a particularly brutal collision with Reds teammate Norris Hopper in 2007, Freel told reporters he had had “nine or ten” concussions in his life, but couldn’t remember the exact number.

Freel additionally once jokingly told reporters that he had an imaginary friend named “Farney” with whom he was conversing when he appeared to be talking to himself.  Freel was also twice arrested for alcohol related offenses during his career.

No information has been published yet concerning whether Freel was having marital or financial problems, whether his history of concussions contributed to depression which might understandably have arisen at the end of his professional career, or whether he was still drinking.  Regardless of the reasons for it, his death at his own hands is really a shame.

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