Bill Freehand, 1960s
This may be my favorite ballgame of all. It is not baseball's greatest (think Game 3 of the 1951 NL playoff, or June 14, 1870, when the Cincinnati Red Stockings finally lost a game), but it is the one I wish I had attended in person. I included it in my book Baseball's Ten Greatest Games, more than thirty years ago.
1969 Topps All Star
This past summer I was asked by the baseball web site Hall of Very God to write an article on Bill Freehan.
I was honored, of course, and accepted the challenge.
I’ve been a Freehan fan for 45 years…at least…and I couldn’t wait to put on paper my thought on baseball’s best catcher f the 1960′s.
I hope you enjoy the article, please comment either way.
Thanks, and G Tigers!
Bill Freehan’s rookie card, Topps #466.
I bought this card in 1980, for $10.00.
The value is around $60, in near mint condition, but I’ll never get rid of it.
June 1st, 1963, Tigers rookie catcher Bill Freehan went 0-1 as a pinch hitter in the Tigers 7-1 loss at Minnesota.
June 1st, 1966, in Minnesota, Freehan went 1-5, with a 2 run single in the Tigers 9-4 win at Minnesota.
June 1st, 1967, at home vs. the Cleveland Indians, Freehan singled in a 1-4 day as the Tigers beat the Tribe, 4-1, at Tiger Stadium.
June 1st, 1968, Freehan went 2-4, with 3 RBI as the Tigers beat the Yankees at Tiger Stadium, 5-4.
June 1st, 1969, Freehan was 1-3, with a run scored, in the Tigers loss to the Seattle Pilots, 8-7.
June 1st, 1971, Freehan 1-4 as the Tigers lost in Minnesota, 3-1.
June 1st, 1973, Freehan was 2-5, both singles, in the Tigers 8-3 win in Minnesota.
June 1st, 1974, Freehan was 0-1, and was hit by a pitch(Nolan Ryan) in the Tigers 4-1 loss at California.
June 1st, 1975, Freehan went 1-3, a single, and an intentional walk in the Tigers 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox at Tiger Stadium.
June 1st stats… 9 games…8 for 30…5 RBI…Tigers were 5-4 on June 1st when Bill Freehan played.
Sometime ago, I’m not certain when, I created a blog on mlb.com, “freehansgoldgloves.”
That blog was going to be my way of talking about Tigers baseball.
I was very new to the internet, not really sure what I was doing, and then I came across Blogger, where I created “John’s Big League Baseball Blog,” a site I still joyfully maintain, blogging my thoughts about the great game of baseball.
The blog you’re reading, “Freehan’s Five Gold Gloves,” is a way for me to pay tribute to the greatest catcher to ever play fr the Detroit Tigers, Bill Freehan, and to add a note, or two, on the Tigers current players and team.
If you have come to this blog thinking it’s the one from mlb.com, it’s not, I really never have used that blog,
I know this all sounds like a lot, and it is, and it’s my goal one day to collect them all under one roof on my own web site.
If your still a bit confused, hey, so am I.
After a year blogging about baseball, I’m still not sure I know what the heck I’m doing.
Thanks for your understanding, and thanks for reading my stuff.
In January of this year the Detroit Tigers announced that they were going to honor Sparky Anderson, the late manager of the Tigers from 1979-1995.
The Tigers announced that they are going to retire Sparky’s uniform #11 in a ceremony scheduled for this summer.
While I loved Sparky Anderson, and what he did for the Tigers, my feelings on the retirement of #11 for Sparky continues to get to me every day.
The Tigers are doing a disservice to the retirement of uniform #11 by not including the player who is, who was, and who always be, #11, Bill Freehan.
Bill Freehan’s service to the Tigers is just as important, and equal to, what the Tigers did under Sparky Anderson.
While it’s true that Sparky’s guarantee of a World Series Championship in five years was realized in 1984, Freehan was the on field leader of a Tigers team that won the 1968 World Series, six years after Freehan’s rookie year in 1963.
The Tigers won the 1987 American League Pennant under Sparky.
The Tigers, with Freehan as the primary catcher, won the 1972 American League Eastern Pennant.
In the ’72 ALCS Freehan missed the first two games because of a hairline fracture of his thumb, came back in Game 3 and hit a home run and doubled as the Tiger beat the A’s, 3-0.
After 1988 the Tigers were never a pennant contender under Sparky, having only three winning season’s until his retirement in 1995, and suffering 103 loss season in 1989.
After 1972, Freehan and the Tigers were really not very good, and that includes a 102 loss team in ’75.
My piont here is that the Tigers under Sparky were not always competitive, and at times, were downright awful.
Freehan was the Tigers catcher from 1963-76, a 15 year career that included 11 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, and a MLB record .993 fielding percentage that stood for 30 years.
Freehan was voted to the Tigers All-Time Team by the fans in 1999 as the greatest Tiger catcher ever.
The Tigers are, in my opinion, should include Freehan in ANY ceremony were the uniform #11 is retired.
#11 Belongs to Bill Freehan
I have started a Facebook page, #11 Belongs to Bill Freehan and would appreciate it if you would check it out and support the movement to support Bill Freehan in the retirement of uniform #11 by the Detroit Tigers.
I guess what I’m trying to say in all of this is that the greatest catcher in Detroit Tigers history, Bill Freehan, is being ignored by the Detroit Tigers in the retiring of #11 in honor of Sparky Anderson.
Once Freehan retired the Tigers should have never allowed another player, or coach, to wear #11.
I believe the Tigers have the responsibility to include Bill Freehan in the ceremony retiring #11.
Also, I would like the Tigers to erect a statue of that famous moment at the end of Game 7 of the 1968 World Series were Bill Freehan catches Mickey Lolich as he jumps into his catchers arms to celebrate the Tigers championship.
Judge me as a Freehan homer if you like, but Bill Freehan’s career as a member of the Detroit Tigers stands as one of the best in Tigers history, and I believe that my hero, the greatest catcher in Tigers history, deserves to be honored by the team that he gave everything he had in 15 years behind the plate.
I know the Tigers are probably not going to change their minds, but there is always hope.
Hope that my baseball hero, and the best back stop in Detroit Tigers history, gets the respect he so proudly deserves.