Ryan Freel was a promising American professional baseball player, whose talent allowed him to slide to first for a variety of teams in Major League Baseball. Known as a “utility player,” Freel played such positions as second base, third base, and all three outfield positions for numerous teams including the Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, and Kansas City Royals. Known for winning games at any cost, Freel was a rough and tumble kind of player who would charge headfirst into the home plate, recklessly dive to catch balls, and would put the team ahead of his own well-being.
Playing six seasons for the Toronto Minor Leagues, Ryan Freel would soon make his major league debut on April 4, 2001. As a free agent, Freel was sought after for his impressive abilities to hit home runs, thrive in the outfield and to steal bases. In his best year, Freel would go on to hit .277 with 3 home runs, 28 RBI, 37 stolen bases, and score 74 runs in 143 games for the Reds in 2004. Not only was Ryan well respected for his talent, but also for his kindness to his fans. However, Ryan Freel’s fearlessness came with some drawbacks, as the unrelenting concussions during his MLB career would pose a greater threat than the batter on the opposing team.
To Ryan Freel, concussions were just another aspect of his daily life that he endured, as head injuries became commonplace to him even as a child. These injuries would only follow into his MLB career. Suffering yet another head injury in 2009 with the Baltimore Orioles, Freel was added to the disabled players list and retired the following year. Struggling with the repercussions of his head injuries, Freel was found dead on December 22, 2012 as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
On May 28, 2007, Ryan Freel suffered another terrible head injury on the outfield as he dove into another player while catching a ball, damaging both his neck and his head. After only a month and 5 days following the incident, Freel would return to play baseball. Suffering yet another head injury in 2009 with the Baltimore Orioles, Freel was added to the disabled players list and retired the following year. Struggling with the repercussions of his head injuries, Freel was found dead on December 22, 2012 as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A year after his death, the Boston University School of Medicine officially diagnosed Freel with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) when testing his brain tissue after death.