Ryan Freel, 36, Found Dead at Home of Suicide After MLB Career Filled With Hustle, Humor, Injuries


The sports world is again spending its weekend dealing with the loss of life, this time from Major League Baseball.

Ryan Freel, who lifted the Cincinnati Reds’ franchise with his humor and on-field hustle, was found dead at his Jacksonville home on Saturday afternoon, according to the Florida Times-Union. Freel, 36, died from “a self-inflicted shotgun blast,” according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The former Reds player grew up in Jacksonville and returned there after an eight-year MLB career that included stops in Chicago, Baltimore and Kansas City. Freel was best known for his time with the Reds, with whom he got his first real chance in the majors in 2003 after being picked in the 10th round of the 1995 draft by the Blue Jays and coming up briefly in 2001.

Freel was known for his fun personality and often reckless style of play. Always going for catches and running into things, his all-out style fit in a Reds organization that had been built on hustle and drive. The effects of Freel’s play, however, are what ended his MLB career, as he struggled through injuries during his last two seasons with the Reds before being traded and then retiring in 2010.

Freel once said that he’d had “nine or 10” concussions.

“He was a guy who was always all in, the way he tried very hard and hustled like he did,” said Freel’s former agent, Tommy Tanzer. “He played all out and he lived that way, too.”

Freel had signed on to be the baseball coach at the local St. Joseph Academy last summer but then backed out of the job, the Herald-Tribune reports. He had been part of the Big League Development organization, where he coached local youth baseball players, according to First Coast News.

During a year where the sports world has increasingly dealt with tragedies involving players, including several that have been linked to injuries — and specifically concussions — such as the death of longtime San Diego linebacker Junior Seau, Freel’s death will certainly be examined in light of his hard-charging style of play.

Thumbnail via Twitter/@RedsRallyPack

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