Bill Freehan

William Ashley Freehan (born November 29, 1941)[1] is an American former professional baseball player. He played his entire fifteen-year Major League Baseball career as a catcher for the Detroit Tigers. The premier catcher in the American League for several years from the 1960s into the early 1970s, he was named an All-Star in each of the eleven seasons in which he caught at least 75 games, and was the MVP runnerup with the 1968 champions for his handling of a pitching staff that included Mickey Lolich and Denny McLain, who became the first 30-game winner in the majors since 1934.

A five-time Gold Glove Award winner,[2] Freehan held the major league record for highest career fielding percentage (.9933) until 2002, and also the records for career putouts (9,941) and total chances (10,734) from 1975 until the late 1980s;[3] he ranked ninth in major league history in games caught (1,581) at the end of his career. His career totals of 200 home runs and 2,502 total bases placed him behind only Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey among AL catchers when he retired.

Bill Freehan
Bill Freehan 1975
Born: November 29, 1941 (age 77)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 26, 1961, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1976, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
Batting average.262
Home runs200
Runs batted in758
Career highlights and awards

Major league career

Freehan attended the University of Michigan, where he set an all-time Big Ten Conference batting mark of .585 in 1961 and also played football.[4] He signed with his hometown Tigers in 1961 for a $100,000 bonus, which his father withheld until he graduated in 1966, and broke in briefly with 4 games at the end of the season before returning to the minors in 1962.[5] In 1963 he arrived in the majors to stay, working with former catcher Rick Ferrell on his defense and splitting catching duties with Gus Triandos, who was traded following the season. The 1964 campaign gave indications of what was to come; he batted .300 to finish sixth in the American League (AL), along with 18 home runs and 80 runs batted in.[6] He also led the AL by throwing out 53% of potential base stealers, earned the first of his ten consecutive All-Star selections, and placed seventh in the Most Valuable Player Award balloting.[7] In 1965 he led the AL in putouts for the first of six times, and received the first of his five consecutive Gold Gloves. In 1966 he again led the league in putouts, and also led in fielding percentage for the first of four times.

1967 was his best season yet, as he batted .282 – ninth in the AL as averages hit an all-time low – with 20 home runs, and broke Elston Howard's 1964 AL single-season records with 950 putouts and 1,021 total chances. Freehan led the league in both intentional walks and times hit by pitch, and finished third in the MVP voting after Detroit came within one game of the Boston Red Sox for the AL pennant.[8][9]

Bill Freehan 1966
Freehan wearing protective catcher's gear as a member of the Detroit Tigers in 1966.

He had an even better year in 1968 as he was considered the quiet leader of the 1968 World Series championship squad. In a year marked by dominant pitching, he posted career highs with 25 home runs and 84 RBI, fifth and sixth in the AL respectively.[10] Freehan broke his own records with 971 putouts and 1,050 total chances, marks which remained league records until Dan Wilson topped them with the 1997 Seattle Mariners. He was also hit by 24 pitches, the most in the AL since Kid Elberfeld in 1911. Despite playing in hitter-friendly Tiger Stadium, Freehan guided the Tigers' pitching staff to an earned run average of 2.71, third best in the league.[11] McLain won 31 games and Lolich won 17 as the Tigers ran away with the pennant. Because of his offensive and defensive contributions, he finished second to McLain in the MVP voting.[12] Freehan and Carl Yastrzemski were the only players to finish in the top ten of the voting in both 1967 and 1968, and only Yastrzemski reached base more often in 1968. He capped his season by recording the final out of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, retiring Tim McCarver on a popup. He also made a pivotal play in Game 5, with the Cardinals leading the Series 3-1 and the game 3-2.[13] In the fifth inning, Lou Brock – whom Freehan had thrown out on an attempted steal in the third inning – doubled with one out and attempted to score on Julián Javier's single, but Freehan successfully blocked the plate with his foot, and held on to the ball even though Brock came in standing up in an attempt to knock the ball loose. Detroit won by scoring three runs in the seventh inning, and went on to take the last two games.[14]

Although his later seasons rarely approached the brilliance of those two campaigns, he continued to turn out All-Star years for the Tigers. His offensive numbers dipped in 1970, but he threw out 47% of potential base stealers (his highest mark since 1964) and had a .997 fielding percentage. In 1971 he batted .277 with 21 home runs, and he hit .262 for the 1972 Eastern Division champions. He missed the first two games (both losses) of the 1972 American League Championship Series against the Oakland Athletics while recovering from a hairline fracture of his thumb, then doubled and homered in a 3-0 Game 3 win, in which Joe Coleman set a League Championship Series record with 14 strikeouts.[15] Freehan drove in the first of three runs in the tenth inning of Game 4 in a memorable 4-3 come-from-behind victory which tied the series;[16] he also drove in Detroit's only run in the 2-1 Game 5 loss.[17] In 1974, playing primarily at first base, he finished fifth in the American League in slugging average with a .479 mark.[18] He moved back behind the plate the following year to earn his eleventh All-Star berth. Freehan ended his career in 1976, batting .270.

Career statistics

In his 15-year career, Freehan played in 1,774 games with 1,591 hits in 6,073 at bats for a .262 batting average along with 241 doubles, 200 home runs, 758 RBI, and a .340 on-base percentage.[1] In addition to his home runs and total bases, his .412 slugging average and totals of 1,591 hits, 706 runs and 476 extra base hits all put him among the top five AL catchers to that time. His batting totals are particularly remarkable in light of the fact that offense was at a low throughout the sport during his career, with a decided advantage toward pitchers. Freehan led all AL catchers in fielding percentage four times (1965, 1966, 1970, 1973).[19] He also ranked sixth in American League history with 114 times being hit by a pitch. Freehan caught more games than any other player in Tigers' team history.[20] In his book, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, baseball historian Bill James ranked Freehan 12th all-time among major league catchers.[21]

Freehan held the major league record for highest career fielding percentage (.9933) until 2002, when Dan Wilson broke his record. In 1973 and 1974 he surpassed Yogi Berra to become the AL's all-time leader in putouts and total chances; he broke Johnny Roseboro's major league marks in 1975. Bob Boone broke his major league mark of 10,734 career total chances in 1987, and Gary Carter surpassed his putouts total of 9,941 in 1988;[22][23] Carlton Fisk broke his AL records in 1989 (total chances) and 1990 (putouts).[24] Freehan caught 114 shutouts during his career, ranking him 18th all-time among major league catchers.[25]

In 1969, Freehan penned "Behind the Mask", a diary-type recording of his thoughts and experiences as seen from the catcher's perspective.[26] After retiring, he coached Tigers catcher Lance Parrish on the fine points of playing his position. In 1978, Freehan was one of seven members of the inaugural class of inductees to the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor. He served as a color commentator for Seattle Mariners broadcasts in 1979–80, and for Tigers broadcasts on PASS Sports television in 1984–85, and returned to the University of Michigan as head coach of the baseball team from 1989 to 1995.

Personal life

In 1963, he married Pat Freehan.[27]

Freehan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in his later years.[27] In October 2018, it was revealed that Freehan was in hospice care at his home in Northern Michigan.[27]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Bill Freehan Stats -".
  2. ^ "MLB American League Gold Glove Award Winners -".
  3. ^ "Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers - Career Fielding Leaders".
  4. ^ "Sports Illustrated, July 27, 1997".
  5. ^ "Bill Freehan: A Key Member of the 1968 Champion Tigers, by Jim Sargent, Baseball Digest, Jun 2000, Vol. 59, No. 6, ISSN 0005-609X".
  6. ^ "1964 American League Batting Leaders -".
  7. ^ "1964 Awards Voting -".
  8. ^ "1967 American League Batting Leaders -".
  9. ^ "1967 Awards Voting -".
  10. ^ "1968 American League Season Summary -".
  11. ^ "1968 American League Season Summary -".
  12. ^ "1968 Awards Voting -".
  13. ^ "1968 World Series Game 5, St. Louis Cardinals at Detroit Tigers, October 7, 1968 -".
  14. ^ "1968 World Series - Detroit Tigers over St. Louis Cardinals (4-3) -".
  15. ^ "1972 American League Championship Series (ALCS) Game 3, Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers, October 10, 1972 -".
  16. ^ "1972 American League Championship Series (ALCS) Game 4, Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers, October 11, 1972 -".
  17. ^ "1972 American League Championship Series (ALCS) Game 5, Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers, October 12, 1972 -".
  18. ^ "1974 American League Batting Leaders -".
  19. ^ "Baseball Digest, July 2001, P.86, Vol. 60, No. 7, ISSN 0005-609X".
  20. ^ "Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers - Miscellaneous Records - Most Games Played per Team".
  21. ^ James, Bill (2001). The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. p. 376. ISBN 0-684-80697-5.
  22. ^ "Bob Boone Stats -".
  23. ^ "Search Results".
  24. ^ "Carlton Fisk Stats -".
  25. ^ "The Encyclopedia of Catchers - Trivia December 2010 - Career Shutouts Caught". The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  26. ^ Freehan, Bill (17 October 1970). "Behind the mask;: An inside baseball diary". [Maddick Manuscripts, Inc. – via Amazon.
  27. ^ a b c "As Bill Freehan lies in hospice care, his wife reveals their love story". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved February 10, 2019.

External links

1961 College Baseball All-America Team

An All-American team is an honorary sports team composed of the best amateur players of a specific season for each team position—who in turn are given the honorific "All-America" and typically referred to as "All-American athletes", or simply "All-Americans". Although the honorees generally do not compete together as a unit, the term is used in U.S. team sports to refer to players who are selected by members of the national media. Walter Camp selected the first All-America team in the early days of American football in 1889.From 1947 to 1980, the American Baseball Coaches Association was the only All-American selector recognized by the NCAA.

1966 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1966 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 37th midseason exhibition between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was played on July 12, 1966, at then-new Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

The 10-inning contest – which was played on a memorably hot and humid afternoon in St. Louis, with a game-time temperature of 105 °F (41 °C) – resulted in a 2–1 victory for the NL.

1968 Detroit Tigers season

The 1968 Detroit Tigers won the 1968 World Series, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals four games to three. The 1968 baseball season, known as the "Year of the Pitcher", was the Detroit Tigers' 68th since they entered the American League in 1901, their eighth pennant, and third World Series championship. Detroit pitcher Denny McLain won the Cy Young Award and was named the American League's Most Valuable Player after winning 31 games. Mickey Lolich pitched three complete games in the World Series – and won all three – to win World Series MVP honors.

1968 World Series

The 1968 World Series featured the American League champion Detroit Tigers against the National League champion (and defending World Series champion) St. Louis Cardinals, with the Tigers winning in seven games for their first championship since 1945, and the third in their history.

The Tigers came back from a 3–1 deficit to win three in a row, largely on the arm of MVP Mickey Lolich, who as of 2019 remains the last pitcher to earn three complete-game victories in a single World Series. (The three World Series wins were duplicated by Randy Johnson in 2001, but Johnson started only two of his games.) In his third appearance in the Series, Lolich had to pitch after only two days' rest in the deciding Game 7, because regular-season 31-game winner Denny McLain was moved up to Game 6 – also on two days' rest. In Game 5, the Tigers' hopes for the title would have been very much in jeopardy had Bill Freehan not tagged out Lou Brock in a home plate collision, on a perfect throw from left fielder Willie Horton, when Brock elected not to slide and went in standing up.

The 1968 season was tagged "The Year of the Pitcher", and the Series featured dominant performances from Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, MVP of the 1964 and 1967 World Series. Gibson came into the World Series with a regular-season earned run average (ERA) of just 1.12, a modern era record, and he pitched complete games in Games 1, 4, and 7. He was the winning pitcher in Games 1 and 4. In Game 1, he threw a shutout, striking out a Series record of 17 batters, besting Sandy Koufax's 1963 record by two. The 17 strikeouts still stands as the World Series record today. In Game 4, a solo home run by Jim Northrup was the only offense the Tigers were able to muster, as Gibson struck out ten batters. In Game 7, Gibson was defeated by series MVP Lolich, allowing three runs on four straight hits in the decisive seventh inning, although the key play was a Northrup triple that was seemingly misplayed by center fielder Curt Flood and could have been the third out with no runs scoring.

The World Series saw the Cardinals lose a Game 7 for the first time in their history. The Tigers were the third team to come back from a three-games-to-one deficit to win a best-of-seven World Series, the first two being the 1925 Pirates and the 1958 Yankees. Since then, the 1979 Pirates, the 1985 Royals, and the 2016 Cubs accomplished this feat.

Detroit manager Mayo Smith received some notoriety for moving outfielder Mickey Stanley to shortstop for the 1968 World Series, which has been called one of the gutsiest coaching moves in sports history by multiple sources. Stanley, who replaced the superior fielding but much weaker hitting Ray Oyler, would make two errors in the Series, neither of which led to a run.

This was also the final World Series played prior to Major League Baseball's 1969 expansion, which coincided with the introduction of divisional play and the League Championship Series.

All seven games of NBC's TV coverage were preserved on black-and-white kinescopes by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and circulate among collectors. Games 1 and 5 have been commercially released; these broadcasts, and that of Game 7, were frequently shown on CSN (Classic Sports Network) and ESPN Classic in the 1990s and 2000s.

1971 Detroit Tigers season

The 1971 Detroit Tigers finished in second place in the American League East with a 91–71 record, 12 games behind the Orioles. They outscored their opponents 701 to 645. They drew 1,591,073 fans to Tiger Stadium, the second highest attendance in the American League.

1972 American League Championship Series

The 1972 American League Championship Series took place between October 7 and 12, 1972. The Oakland Athletics (93–62 on the season) played the Detroit Tigers (86–70 on the season) for the right to go to the 1972 World Series, with the A's coming out on top in the five-game series, 3–2. Games 1 and 2 took place at the Oakland Coliseum, and 3 through 5 took place at Tiger Stadium.

1972 Detroit Tigers season

The 1972 Detroit Tigers won the American League East division championship with a record of 86–70 (.551), finishing one-half game ahead of the Boston Red Sox. They played one more game than the Red Sox due to a scheduling quirk caused by the 1972 Major League Baseball strike—a game which turned out to allow them to win the division. They lost the 1972 American League Championship Series to the Oakland A's three games to two.

1973 Detroit Tigers season

The 1973 Detroit Tigers compiled a record of 85–77. They finished in 3rd place in the AL East, 12 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. They were outscored by their opponents 674 to 642.

1974 Detroit Tigers season

The 1974 Detroit Tigers compiled a record of 72–90. They finished in last place in the American League East, 19 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. They were outscored by their opponents 768 to 620.

1975 Detroit Tigers season

The 1975 Detroit Tigers compiled a record of 57–102, the fifth worst season in Detroit Tigers history. They finished in last place in the American League East, 37½ games behind the Boston Red Sox. Their team batting average of .249 and team ERA of 4.27 were the second worst in the American League. They were outscored by their opponents 786 to 570.

1982 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1982 followed the system in place since 1978.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and elected two, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider older major league players as well as managers, umpires, executives, and figures from the Negro Leagues.

It selected Happy Chandler and Travis Jackson.

Bart Kaufman Field

Bart Kaufman Field is a baseball field in Bloomington, Indiana. It is home of the Indiana Hoosiers baseball team. The capacity of the facility is 2,500 spectators. It is named after Bart Kaufman, an alumnus who played in 1960-61-62. In 1961 he was the second-leading hitter (.452) in the Big Ten to longtime Detroit Tigers player Bill Freehan of the University of Michigan. Kaufman pledged $2.5 million to get the project going. Many teammates contributed to name the Indiana dugout after longtime baseball coach Ernie Andres. Much of the cost, reported to be in excess of $19 million including Andy Mohr Field for softball, was funded by proceeds from the Big Ten Network.

The stadium hosted an NCAA Regional in its first two years of existence; it marked the first two times the IU baseball program has played tournament games on campus. Bart Kaufman Field hosted its first Big Ten Baseball Tournament from May 24–28, 2017.

Bob Ufer

Robert Pormann Ufer (April 1, 1920 – October 26, 1981) was an American track and field athlete and radio broadcaster. As an athlete, he set the world indoor record of 48.1 seconds in the indoor 440-yard (quarter mile) run and was selected as an All-American in 1943. As a broadcaster, he served as the lead broadcaster for the Michigan Wolverines football team for 36 years, starting in 1945. He was in the first group inducted in 1978 into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor along with Gerald Ford, Bill Freehan, Tom Harmon, Ron Kramer, Bennie Oosterbaan, and Cazzie Russell.

Detroit Tigers award winners and league leaders

This is a list of award winners and league leaders for the Detroit Tigers professional baseball team.

Euclid St. Paul's

Euclid St. Paul's Neighborhood is a residential section of St. Petersburg, Florida which began to be developed in the 1920s in a former orange grove. The neighborhood has a mixture of home styles and sizes, and the Pinellas County Schools headquarters are located there. Bill Freehan, later an all-star catcher for Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers, first played football as a member of a team at a former Catholic high school in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood encompasses 240 acres (0.97 km2) with boundaries that are major traffic arteries and commercial zones: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street North on the east; and 16th Street North on the west, 22nd Avenue North on the north side, and 9th Avenue North forming the southern boundary. Downtown St. Petersburg, the Central Avenue Business District and Baywalk are all 1.5 to 2 miles (2.4 to 3.2 km) away. Both St. Anthony's Hospital and Edward White Memorial Hospital are less than a mile away, as is access to Interstate-275.The neighborhood contains diverse styles of homes and varying lot sizes but no city-owned parks, although there are several nearby, including Booker Creek Park, Sprague Park, Huggins-Stengel Field and Stewart Field, Woodlawn Park, Crescent Lake Park, Round Lake Park, Mirror Lake Park, Blanc Park, and Euclid Lake Park. In the western section there are more modest homes of a more uniform style. The northeastern section has the most duplex, triplex and small apartment buildings. Many homes have garage apartments accessible from alleys, and nearly every home has access to an alley.

List of Gold Glove Award winners at catcher

The Rawlings Gold Glove Award, usually referred to as the Gold Glove, is the award given annually to the Major League Baseball players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), as voted by the managers and coaches in each league. Managers are not permitted to vote for their own players. Eighteen Gold Gloves are awarded each year (with the exception of 1957, 1985 and 2007), one at each of the nine positions in each league. In 1957, the baseball glove manufacturer Rawlings created the Gold Glove Award to commemorate the best fielding performance at each position. The award was created from a glove made from gold lamé-tanned leather and affixed to a walnut base. Initially, only one Gold Glove per position was awarded to the top fielder at each position in the entire league; however, separate awards were given for the National and American Leagues beginning in 1958.Iván Rodríguez has won the most Gold Gloves at catcher, with 13; all were won with the Texas Rangers or the Detroit Tigers (both American League teams), though Rodríguez has played in both leagues. Johnny Bench, who spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds, leads National Leaguers in wins, and is second overall with 10 Gold Gloves. Yadier Molina is third overall and second in the NL all time with 9. Bob Boone, who is a member of one of four family pairs to win Gold Glove Awards, won seven between both leagues during his career. Jim Sundberg has won six Gold Gloves, with Bill Freehan winning five. There have been four 4-time winners at catcher: Del Crandall, Mike Matheny, Charles Johnson, and Tony Peña. Hall of Famers who have won as catchers include Bench, Carlton Fisk, and Gary Carter. The other family pair to win Gold Gloves as catchers are brothers Bengie and Yadier Molina, who have won eleven awards between them as of the end of the 2018 season.Yadier Molina set the record for putouts among winning catchers in 2016; he put out 1,113 batters for the St. Louis Cardinals that season. In the American League, the leader is Dan Wilson, with 1,051 putouts in 1997 though he did not win the Gold Glove Award for it. Among Gold Glove winners, the most A.L. putouts was in 2012, when Matt Wieters had 994. Assist leaders include Carter (108 in 1980) in the National League and the major leagues and Sundberg (103 in 1977) in the American League. No Gold Glove-winning catchers had posted errorless seasons until Johnson (1997) and Matheny (2003) each accomplished the feat in the National League within six years; their fielding percentages in those seasons were 1.000, and Matheny posted two other winning seasons with only one error and a .999 fielding percentage in his career. Bengie Molina leads in the American League with a one-error, .999 fielding percentage season in 2002; Sherm Lollar also posted only one error in the award's inaugural season, but a reduced number of chances left his fielding percentage at .998. Yadier Molina and Johnson hold the major league record for double plays turned among winners, with 17 each. Edwards doubled off 17 runners in 1964, and Johnson matched his total in 1997. The American League leaders are Ray Fosse and Boone (16 double plays in 1971 and 1986, respectively). Bench holds the record for the least passed balls in a season, having allowed none in 1975. Rodríguez (1999) and Boone (1988) lead the American League, with one allowed. Rodríguez has the highest percentage of baserunners caught stealing, with a 60% mark set in 2001. Bench is the National League leader; he threw out 57% of potential base-stealers in 1969.

Michigan Wolverines baseball

The Michigan Wolverines baseball team represents the University of Michigan in NCAA Division I college baseball. Along with most other Michigan athletic teams, the baseball team participates in the Big Ten Conference. They play their home games at Ray Fisher Stadium.

The Wolverines have made the College World Series eight times, winning two national championships in 1953 and 1962. Michigan is the fourth winningest program in NCAA Division I baseball history, trailing only Fordham, Texas and USC.

Prior to the 2013 season, former Maryland head coach Erik Bakich replaced Rich Maloney as the program's head coach.

Moby Benedict

Milbry Eugene "Moby" Benedict (born March 29, 1935) is a former baseball shortstop and University of Michigan coach.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Benedict played baseball and basketball at Detroit's Southeastern High School before attending the University of Michigan. He played for the Michigan Wolverines from 1953–1956 and played for the College World Series championship team in 1953. He played in the minor leagues in the late 1950s before accepting a position as assistant coach at the University of Michigan from 1960-1962. He was an assistant coach on the Wolverines' College World Series championship team in 1962, making him the only person to be a member of both of the school's national championship teams.

After winning the College World Series, Michigan's head coach the Detroit Tigers' minor league organization and recommended Benedict as his replacement. In 1963, Benedict took over as Michigan's head baseball coach. He spent 17 years as the Michigan head coach, compiling a record of 367-251-5. Michigan won three Big Ten Conference championships under Benedict (1975, 1976, and 1978) and finished in the top three in the Big Ten in 14 of Benedict's 17 years as head coach. The 1978 team, featuring Rick Leach and Steve Howe advanced to the College World Series in 1978, finishing fifth.

Benedict coached 25 future major league players as Michigan's head coach, including Leach, Howe, Elliott Maddox, Dave Campbell, Leon Roberts, Geoff Zahn and Lary Sorensen. Benedict retired as Michigan's coach after the 1979 season. He came out of retirement to manage the Montreal Expos' Class A minor league team, the Jamestown Expos, in the New York-Pennsylvania League, from 1982-1984. He subsequently became the director of intramural sports at the University of Michigan.

Michigan retired Benedict's uniform number (#1), only the second number retired by the school after Bill Freehan. In 1994, he was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.