Bill Freehan, the 11-time MLB All-Star catcher and a mainstay of the Detroit Tigers team that won the 1968 World Series, has died. He was 79 years old.
“With great regret that all of us at the Detroit Tigers extend our condolences to the friends and family of Bill Freehan,” the team said Thursday. The cause of death was not disclosed. But family members had said in recent years that Freehan suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Freehan spent his entire career with the Tigers, from 1961 to 1976. Apart from his appearances in the All-Star Game – he played all 15 innings of the 1967 classic – he was awarded the Gold Glove five times. “He was the best catcher I ever had. … Nobody beat him, “said Denny McLain, the pitcher who won 31 games for the Tigers in 1968.
In Game 5 of the 1968 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Freehan blocked the plate on a crucial play and threw out Lou Brock. Detroit won the game and the series – a result that was engraved with the famous photo of pitcher Mickey Lolich leaping to hug his jubilant catcher at the end of Game 7.
Freehan’s family suspects that Alzheimer’s disease had something to do with the shocks he suffered in his years as a player. A grandson, Blaise Salter, resigned from the minor leagues in 2018 after two concussions in eight months.
Ed White / Associated Press