Wednesday, September 14, 2016

no. 575 - bill freehan

Who is the man: Bill Freehan was enjoying a bounce-back season when this card was issued. His 1970 season was rough. His stats plummeted, his season ended early so he could undergo back surgery, and fans booed him after the release of his diary of the Tigers' 1969 season called "Behind the Mask".

Can ya dig it: I don't know why the crop is so tight on Freehan. Did he spill his lunch on his jersey? Makes for a distinctive card though.

Right on: Yankee Stadium all the way.

You see that cat Freehan is a bad mother: Freehan was known for his defensive ability and handling of the Tigers' pitching staff. He finished second in the AL MVP voting in 1968 to teammate Denny McLain.

Shut your mouth: Freehan's diary wasn't nearly as scandalous as Jim Bouton's "Ball Four," which came out the same year. But McLain had been suspended over a gambling investigation and Sports Illustrated published excerpts of Freehan's book, referring specifically to McLain and whether the team gave him special treatment. While the Tigers struggled, Freehan was viewed as airing clubhouse secrets.

No one understands him but his woman: Freehan recorded the final out of the 1968 World Series, catching Tim McCarver's foul pop up.

(A word about the back): Freehan set all kinds of old-timey catching stat records during his career (putouts, chances, etc.). When he retired, he owned the best career fielding percentage for a catcher at .993. He is now 30th all-time as catchers like Mike Redmond, Damien Miller and Chris Snyder have surpassed him. There are 13 active catchers in the majors with a better career fielding percentage than Freehan.


  1. His 1973 card remains one of my favorites.

  2. An 11 time all star, Freehan's career benefits from his timing. His offense numbers are OK but uneven. Nevertheless he was far and away the best AL catcher several years running in the later part of 1960's before Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk arrival.