Monday, May 26, 2014

Bill Freehan (#145)

Bill Freehan was the Tigers’ starting catcher from 1963 to 1976. During those 14 seasons, he made the all-star team every season except the his first and last (when he shared the starting job) and 1974 (when he spent 3 months as the team’s 1st baseman.

Freehan was signed by the Tigers in 1961, and spent that season in class-C and class-A ball. He also played in 4 games for the Tigers in September. Bill played at the triple-A level for all of 1962, catching and playing 1st base.

He made the Tigers’ squad at the start of 1963, and made 40% of the starts, behind veteran Gus Triandos.

Freehan assumed the fulltime starter’s job in 1964, and except for June to August 1974 when he was the every-day 1st baseman, held on to his catching job through the 1975 season. Bill won 5 gold gloves for his mitt work during that stretch, and handled Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich in their prime.

He played in the 1968 World Series, and despite his .083 post-season batting average, he was the MVP runner-up that season. Freehan’s only other post-season action was in the 1972 ALCS.

1967 and 1968 were the high point of his career in terms of playing time. He played in 155 games both seasons, and led the AL both times in being hit by a pitch.

In 1974, veteran 1st-sacker Norm Cash was winding down his long career. Cash was the starter through the end of May, then Freehan moved out to 1st base, starting almost every game until rookie call-ups arrived on September 1st.

After another all-star season (1975) behind the plate, Freehan wrapped up his career in 1976, sharing the catching job with John Wockenfuss and rookie Bruce Kimm.

When his playing career was over, he spent a few seasons in broadcasting, then was the head baseball coach at the University of Michigan from 1989 to 1995.

1 comment:

Mark Hoyle said...

I think he should have got a little consideration for the HOF .one of the best catchers of his generation