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Ryan Freel’s family is donating his brain to science for study of head trauma

Dec 31, 2012, 10:50 AM EDT

freel getty Getty Images

Ryan Freel committed suicide via gun shot last week at age 36 and now his family is hoping that science can provide some answers about a possible link to his numerous concussions as an athlete.

Freel’s brain tissue will be sent for testing at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, where many former NFL players have been studied post-mortem for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Freel’s ex-wife Christie Moore Freel shared some revealing details about her home life during 11 years of marriage, telling Mike Tierney of the New York Times:

I don’t know how many times he would talk about sliding into second or third base and blacking out or seeing stars. I cringed that that’s who he was–all-out, full throttle. It was very hard to watch. … I know a lot of people say they weren’t shocked by it, but I really was. I really thought, at some point, the answer to all of this would come along for him. It just never did. I’m very hopeful. We certainly believe there is some sort of connection.

Freel’s step-father told Tierney that the family believes he sustained at least 15 concussions and his ex-wife shared the story of a Venezuelan winter league game in which Freel had to be hospitalized for a concussion after crashing through an outfield wall.

Tierney’s article also includes further details about Freel’s memory loss and mood swings and other post-concussion symptoms, plus a whole lot of very sad stories and comments from his family. Hopefully at least the studying of his brain tissue can provide them with some answers and perhaps help future athletes in Freel’s position.

  1. Charles Gates - Dec 31, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Freel gained some notoriety in August of 2006 when The Dayton Daily News reported that Freel talked to an imaginary voice in his head named Farney.[4] Said Freel: “He’s a little guy who lives in my head who talks to me and I talk to him. That little midget in my head said, ‘That was a great catch, Ryan,’ I said, ‘Hey, Farney, I don’t know if that was you who really caught that ball, but that was pretty good if it was.’ Everybody thinks I talk to myself, so I tell ’em I’m talking to Farney.”

    • Jackson - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      When I heard reports of stuff like that, I always wonder if the person showed signs and/or symptoms of stuff like this in high school or college. We may never know how long he was really suffering.

  2. deathmonkey41 - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Family doesn’t care about the overall picture and helping athletes in the future, this is a prelude to a lawsuit against MLB.

    • The Common Man - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      That’s about as cynical and shitty a thing as I can think of to say about a grieving family, except for things that Pouliot has written.

      • deathmonkey41 - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:30 PM

        When they file that lawsuit, you can tell me that again.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        How about you wait for the lawsuit to be filed before defiling the family?

      • chc4 - Jan 1, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        Maybe so… but he is 100% right.

    • youngwomanscreek - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      Perhaps you should actually read through the link before such a commet:
      “Freel’s former wife said she found no fault with his teams or their medical staffs, concluding that they diagnosed his condition properly and insisted that he abide by the stipulated recovery period.”
      If someone were planning on a lawsuit, they likely wouldn’t make comments like this.

  3. thebigtim2012 - Dec 31, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Seriously when the family actually files a lawsuit make a comment until then ur just a prick with a keyboard

  4. mazblast - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    I can see a lawsuit in the future, but for now I say let’s let the family handle things in their own way. I won’t impugn their motives before they even do anything.

    Ironically, if they should sue, quotes like the Farney thing may be used against them. MLB may simply point to this and say, “The guy’s wiring wasn’t quite right to begin with”. That the NFL didn’t do enough to prevent and deal with concussions is one thing; proving that MLB had the same issue is quite another.

  5. mlblogsrichroehl - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    never knew there were alot of concussions in baseball. they should wear those ‘bigger’ helmets.

  6. richyballgame - Dec 31, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Hopefully we can discover more about head trauma,and then we can take the necessary steps to make sure what happened to Ryan can at least be prevented from happening to another human being.

  7. jaysjunkie - Jan 1, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    Richard Griffin from the Toronto Star had a good piece yesterday on Freel and the concussion angle:–ex-blue-jay-ryan-freel-s-death-cautionary-tale-on-concussions-griffin

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