One of the best Detroit Tigers catchers of all-time, Bill Freehan of Detroit, MI passed away at the age of 79 on Thursday according to the Associated Press. He had been suffering from dementia at the time of his death. Freehan has the distinction of playing in 11 Major League Baseball All-Star Games, but was never inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
After four games with the Tigers in 1961, Freehan was a mainstay behind home plate for the Tigers from 1963 to 1976. He was an American League All-Star every year for 10 straight seasons from 1964 to 1973, and again in 1975.
In 6900 plate appearances with the Tigers, Freehan batted .262 with 200 home runs and 758 runs batted in. During 1774 games, Freehan had scored 706 runs, and had 1591 hits, 241 doubles, 35 triples, 24 stolen bases, 626 walks, a .340 on base percentage, a .412 slugging percentage, and .752 on base plus slugging percentage. Freehan also had 2502 total bases, 38 sacrifice hits and 48 sacrifice flies.
One statistical category however that stands out for Freehan is hit by pitches. He was hit 114 times in his Major League Baseball career, and led the American League on three separate occasions in the number of times being hit (eight times in 1964, 20 times in 1967, and 24 times in 1968). In 1967, Freehan also led Major League Baseball in that category.
Freehan’s 114 times being hit, is tied for fifth place all-time among Major League Baseball catchers. The only four catchers who have been hit more than Freehan are Jason Kendall of San Diego, CA (hit 254 times while with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals from 1996 to 2010), Carleton Fisk of Bellows Falls, VT (hit 143 times with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox from 1972 to 1993), A.J. Pierzynski of Bridgehampton, NY (hit 129 times with the Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants, White Sox, Texas Rangers, Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves from 1998 to 2016), and Sherm Lollar of Durham, AR (hit 115 times with the St. Louis Browns and White Sox from 1949 to 1963).
Freehan is tied for fifth place in number of times being hit by a pitch among Major League Baseball catchers with Kurt Suzuki of Wailuku, HI. The current Los Angeles Angels catcher, who also has played with the Athletics, Washington Nationals, Twins and Braves has also been hit 114 times. A World Series champion in 1968, Freehan also won five straight Gold Gloves with the Tigers from 1965 to 1969.