For those of you who know me, relatives, friends, readers of this blog, you know my love of the Detroit Tigers, and my hero, Bill Freehan, the Tigers catcher for 15 years, 1961,63-76.
Bill Freehan was an 11-time All-Star catcher, and the first catcher to ever win 5 straight Gold Glove Awards, 1965-69.
Bill wore #19 when he first made the big club in 1963, but it was familiar #11 that he wore after his recall in 1965, until he retired, following the 1976 season.
The picture to the left is the famous block of the plate by Freehan during Game 5 of the 1968 World Series on St. Louis speedster Lou Brock.
That single play, on a throw on one hop from left fielder Willie Horton, and giving the Tigers new life, a life that would lead to a come from behind win in that pivotal game, a 5-3 Tigers win.
Bill Freehan is the greatest catcher that the Detroit Tigers ever had, and with yesterday's announcement that the Detroit Tigers would retire #11 in honor of...Sparky Anderson, I was very upset, upset that they were not including him in the plans to retire #11.
I love Sparky, he was the Tigers Manager for 17 years, and he turned around the Tigers from terrible teams of the late 1970s into a World Series winner in 1984.
I don't mean to take anything away from Sparky, he deserves recognition.
However, #11 belongs to Bill Freehan and I believe the Tigers must step up and include Freehan in the ceremony that will retire #11 forever, sometime this year at Comerica Park.
I am very passionate about this issue, and I will do whatever it takes so the Detroit Tigers honor Bill Freehan on the same day that #11 is retired later this coming season.
Bill Freehan hit .262 lifetime, had 200 home runs, had 1,591 hits, and was the leader on the field for the Tigers.
It was on defense that Freehan excelled, calling pitches for Denny McLain and his 31 win season in 1968, for Mickey Lolich's 25 wins in 1971, leading the American League in putouts six times, retired with a .993 fielding %, a big league record that stood for 26 years.
Freehan's 11 All-Star Game selections are the most by any player not in the Hall of Fame.
The Tigers need to honor Freehan, and it is my duty, my focus, my passion that that happens.
Go to #11 Belongs to Bill Freehan on Facebook and join my quest, and if your on Twitter, please hashtag #11belongstofreehan in your posts.
Thanks for your support, please feel free to comment on this post, contact me on Twitter, @freehan11, or on email, email@example.com.