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Former MLB utilityman Ryan Freel commits suicide

Dec 22, 2012, 10:31 PM EDT

ryan freel getty Getty Images

Via Chad Cushnir of

First Coast News sports director Dan Hicken has learned that Ryan Freel, a Jacksonville native and former Major League Baseball has died at the age of 36.  The cause of death is suicide.

There aren’t many details available at this time.

Freel batted .268/.354/.369 with 143 stolen bases over parts of eight seasons in the major leagues. He played for the Blue Jays, Reds, Orioles, Cubs and Royals before finishing his career with the independent-league Somerset Patriots in 2010.

Freel, who began working with youth baseball players after his retirement, was 36 years old.


UPDATE, 11:05 PM: A couple things to add …

  • SB Nation’s Red Reporter notes that Freel, who had just been named the head baseball coach at St. Joseph Academy in Florida, was a father and a husband.
  • Known for an aggressive, go-all-out style of defense, Freel told reporters in June 2007 that he had already suffered “nine or 10” concussions.
  1. tuberippin - Dec 22, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    A real shame. Dude played with a true love of the game when he was in Cincy.

    I do wonder, though, if that string of head injuries late in his career contributed to this at all.

  2. trllturner18 - Dec 22, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    Wow R.I.P. really sad. I dont understand what would drive someone to suicide ( outside of the military) personally . I’m in the military so I can kinda understand why some people feel hopeless. This is why I say that people need to really be sincere in caring for people and not being so selfish. Prayers to his family

    • bigmeechy74 - Dec 22, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      I’m not really following you. What does the military have to do with anything? You can be depressed and despondent no matter what position in life you hold.

      • trllturner18 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:04 AM

        Well I’m saying PTSD seeing someone getting blown up is a lot more traumatic than being broke…

      • jimbo75025 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:28 AM

        Agreed-trying to say suicide is only understandable in one scenario is…….well no words for it really as no scenarios exist for making it understandable.

        I am getting to the age now that I have seen several friends take this route (some younger and some now approaching middle age), and in virtually all cases has just left a big heaping pile of crap for those left behind to deal with. More questions than answers always remain.

      • florida727 - Dec 23, 2012 at 9:19 AM

        #jimbo, it’s often been said that suicide is the ultimate form of selfishness that there is. It’s the so-called “easy way out”. You’re right, the ones left behind are the ones that suffer the most… at least in this life. Eternally? Totally different story I’m afraid.

    • hammyofdoom - Dec 22, 2012 at 11:30 PM

      Theres a ton of things that could drive someone to suicide… for example bipolar disorder runs in my dad’s family and I know that while my dad was still alive he threatened to commit suicide several times and he had extremely high moods and extreme lows (this is what I am told, I never really knew him). I personally don’t understand suicide myself, but there are so many reasons that people can find so that it becomes a suitable response to them. RIP Freel, you are the first real baseball name to pass that i personally remember seeing play. Best of luck to his friends and family as well, they’re always the ones who suffer the worst in these situations

      • trllturner18 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:08 AM

        Yeah I don’t understand suicide either. My previous comment may have been perceived wrong but this whole situation is sad

      • hammyofdoom - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:24 AM

        Oh yeah I figured you just came off differently than you meant to be which is why I took an explanatory route with my post instead of getting aggressive with you 😛. Its a sensitive topic and I know some people who just see it as “Why would you do that? It’s stupid, end of story” so I know you didn’t mean what you said in a judgmental way it just kinda came off that way.

  3. butchhuskey - Dec 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    Tragic news. I had forgotten about this guy but I always liked his style of play.

  4. bovice23 - Dec 22, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    He was always a fan favorite here in Cinci, always played his giant heart out. Something tells me his history of concussions or drinking had something to do it but regardless RIP Ryan Freel

  5. mikeincmn - Dec 22, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Horrible news, my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

  6. sawxalicious - Dec 22, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    R.I.P. Ryan Freel

    • pjmitch - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:02 AM

      Who are the idiots that vote thumbs down on comemnts like this one and similar ones?

  7. hammerrm - Dec 22, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    Cincy fan. Awful news

  8. savvybynature - Dec 22, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Another Cincy fan. This guy played his heart out and played the right way.

    As fans we love a player who sacrifices their body to get the job done, but we never want those sacrifices to take this kind if toll. I hope all those entertaining plays at the wall he made weren’t a contributing factor, but regardless of the reason this is sad news.

    • jtrain1966 - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:46 AM

      As a Cardinal fan, I hated when the Cards played Cincy, cause I knew every time he was in the lineup he was going to be a pain in the Cardinals ass ! With that being said : My heart goes out to his friends, family, & all of his fans & whom ever elses life he may have had a major impact on ! R.I.P. MR. Freel, You will be missed by all !!!

  9. Old Gator - Dec 22, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    Drew, can you nuke that asshole?

    • raysfan1 - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Glad Drew did delete the comment to which tis was aimed.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:07 PM

        This was supposed to be entered as a reply under OG’s comment. Also applies to florida727’s comment.

  10. jm91rs - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    He was always balls to the wall in Cincinnati. Loved watching his effort. I’m sure he had some concussions here and I remember at least one DUI and rumors of major drinking. Sad that e thought this was his best option. Prayers go out to his wife and kid

  11. shackdelrio - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    He coached my friend’s kids in Little League here in Jacksonville. Absolutely stunned today. Rest in peace.

  12. theonlynolan - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:25 AM


  13. cadillacjosh - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    Terrible news, especially in light of the news that he’s a father.

    I wonder if the concussions play into it. Much like the NFL players that commited suicide, I wonder if his was based on head trauma research. I mean, its not likely, but possible. Still awful, never the less.

    • indaburg - Dec 23, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      It is likely that his history of concussions had something to do this with. Chronic tramautic encephalopathy (CTE) is a form of degenerative brain disease that can result from repeated brain trauma, like Freel’s. It may not have been the only reason, but I have no doubt it contributed.

      Poor guy. I feel for people so desperate to think this is the only way to ease their pain.

  14. jaysfan64 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    This is awful…I remember this guy from his time with the Jays – he was a fan favourite here too cause of his hustle..sincere condolences to his family and loved ones…

    • jaysjunkie - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:19 AM

      Obviously a very sad story, but I must admit that I’ll be damned if I can remember him from his time with Jays.

  15. elpendejo59 - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    Dear anyone who trolls on a post about a husband and father committing suicide,

    Please meet me in the dark alley of your choice so we can “discuss” this like “gentlmen”


    A human being

  16. cur68 - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    Damn. I remember this kid from his days when he played for My Boys. Sorry to see the news. It must be awful for his family. I’m sorry

    • elpendejo59 - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:06 AM

      Hey cur,
      Isn’t it soooo cool that someone thumbed you down? Internet badassery is the coolest. Is it too late to have that person aborted?

      • cur68 - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        Well, you spend a lot of time on a blog and you acquire people who don’t like you. Some of those thumbs are going to be directed at me, not necessarily the sentiment. Others, well who knows? People can be pretty weird about suicide.

      • bigharold - Dec 24, 2012 at 2:41 AM

        “Some of those thumbs are going to be directed at me,…’

        Still no excuse. Thumbs downing an individual regardless of the topic or content is just plain BS.

        I wish the moderator would do with the completely do away with the thumbs down thing. I get thumbs up, .. why repeat the same thought someone just posted. But thumbs down is weak BS. If you don’t agree with my point then explain yourself, .. otherwise you either really don’t disagree that much or you don’t have the cerebral wherewith all to expound on why I’m wrong.

  17. stabonerichard - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:56 AM


  18. cincikid513 - Dec 23, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    So sad. He had a great fan base when he played in the Nati. Tough as nails in the field. My prayers go out to his wife, children and the rest of those immediately affected by his death. May he dance with the Lord in paradise.

  19. drewsylvania - Dec 23, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Concussions–diminishing your mental faculties–often cause depression. Players need to start taking them seriously.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Dec 23, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      That comment is better left for profootballtalk. Concussions happen in baseball but they aren’t an epidemic and I don’t recall ever hearing any players talk about hiding them from management as NFL players do.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM

        Incorrect. Players hide injuries, or downplay them, in all sports at all levels because they want to play. There is less physical contact in baseball than football, but concussions are still common. Research is still far from complete but all traumatic brain injuries can have deleterious and cumulative effects. This is why baseball now has a mandatory one week DL for anyone diagnosed with a TBI.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        If the players aren’t telling anyone how can you say I’m incorrect? You can’t. Everything I said is right. Yes players hide injuries but concussions are not a problem in baseball like they are in football.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Ok, let me try to clarify. If all you mean is that the concussion problem is worse in football than in baseball, then you are right; I would accept that as axiomatic. However, your response to drewsylvania made me think you were implying that concussions are not a problem in baseball, and that would be incorrect. Your statement that the comment drewsylvania made should be left to profootballtalk also implies that concussions need not be addressed in baseball, and once more I disagree. If I read more into your first comment than I should have, then I apologize. Either way, no offense was meant, it’s just that I feel strongly that traumatic brain injuries need to be taken seriously– and not just in sports, for that matter.

  20. florida727 - Dec 23, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    Sorry, I hate to state the obvious, but what kind of a miserable, low-life existence do you have to have to make jokes about a guy who, apparently, is so distraught that he takes his own life and leaves behind a wife and kid(s)? Get some help, man. You have some serious mental issues if that’s your idea of a joke.

  21. ndnut - Dec 23, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.


    P.S. There is no judgement declared on anybody except by God. No teaching states that whoever commits suicide is in hell.

  22. fhuizar - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:28 AM


  23. raysfan1 - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Prayers for peace for the Freel family and his friends.

  24. cruuuzcontrol - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    To anyone who listened to this guy speak off the field, it was pretty clear he was mentally ill to some degree. A real shame… I remember I had him on my fantasy team one year among his best years from ’04-’06, when he was an emerging player for the Reds. I’ll never forget how disgusted my co-managers and I were at how Jerry Narron dished out the playing time in the outfield. To this day, Jerry Narron remains something of an inside joke/measuring stick when discussing our frustration with major league managers. RIP Freelsy/Farney.

    • Bbmokc - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      It is interesting that you say that – because I have not heard him speak – but gathered from his pictures that something was wrong. Isn’t that interesting? Some people can take a picture and you can read it like a book and this guys picture were those type.

      • cruuuzcontrol - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        I haven’t checked into the picture angle, but he was not shy about talking about his imaginary friend “Farney” and how Farney was the one who made him play in that balls-to-the-wall mentality. He was so sincere when he spoke about it. Like it was real to him.

  25. 13arod - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    good guy very sad news hate to hear about a person doing suicide r.i.p

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