Monday, November 29, 2021

FREEHAN 80- Happy Baseball Birthday! Bill Freehan, So Long Matthew Boyd

Today we celebrate what would've been the 80th Happy Baseball Birthday! of my baseball hero, William Ashley Freehan

I'm really at a loss for words, as it's taken all day for me to try and find the right things to say about a man who was the cornerstone of the team that I fell in love with at the age of 7.

Thanks to all who've taken time out of their busy day to stop by and read this blog. 

Happy Birthday, Bill. 🐯⚾️

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

FREEHAN 80- Books & Magazines

Today I thought I'd post some of the books, magazines, and other publications in which Bill Freehan has been included. 

First, and foremost, of course, is, Behind The Mask, his diary during the 1969 big league season.

Reading this book as a kid was so fun, I couldn't even tell you how many times that I re-read, and re-read, the book written by my baseball hero. 

Another favorite of mine growing up was Greatest Catchers of the Major Leagues, with a awesome picture of Bill on the books cover.

Then, there's the greatest Sports Illustrated cover of them all, the Baseball Preview Issue in 1969.

A cool magazine that I definitely need to get, the 1965 Baseball Digest, "The Next Gteat Superstar?" in May, 1965.

Of course Bill was a Superstar, at least for me. 

How cool is this issue of The Sporting News! 

Gotta think Bill smacked that tater pretty good, one of his 25 homers in 1968.

I remember getting this program as a kid at a Tigers game, but it's long been lost.

I wish I had that stuff from my childhood at those games,but, heck, it's not the case.

Came across this cool 1968 Baseball Guidebook while doing research for the post today. 

Gosh, there's so many awesome publications with Bill Freehan on the cover, I'd really like go obtain as many as I can, especially because the 1968 Baseball Guidebook. 

I hope ya'll are enjoying your Thanksgiving Day Eve tonight, and,  again, say thanks for stopping buy to read my blog.

Have a great Turkey Day! 🦃🏈

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

FREEHAN80- Rating Bill's Topps Base Cards, 1964-77

In today's #Freehan80 post, I'm going to rate Bill's Topps Baseball Cards, from 1964-77.

When I was a kid I threw everything I had into baseball cards, from allowance, paper route money, baby sitting, birthday cash, Christmas, and the money I got from graduating high school.

My priorities in opening up packs were-

1️⃣ Getting that year's Bill Freehan card.

2️⃣ Getting all the Detroit Tigers cards that year. 

3️⃣ Collecting the complete Topps Set that year.

4️⃣ Collecting superstars such as Clemente, Aaron, Mays, Bench, Seaver, and Brooks Robinson, my favorite Baltimore Orioles player.

👉 I'm skipping Bill Freehan's 1963 Topps RC, #466, obviously, because it's my ultimate #1 Bill Freehan Baseball Card, as I previously posted in 2017.

Also, these a few changes since I made that post, call it a " collectors right of re-evaluation."

#14, 1977 

🦁 This card, his last, is so listed because when I got it in a pack it reminded me that my baseball hero had retired on the winter, after 15 years in the big leagues. 

#13, 1974

#12, 1976

🦁 This card always interested me, I always wondered what Tigers player hit the batting practice homer that Bill is watching.

#11, 1966

🦁 Looks like might have been using a Ty Cobb batting style bat grip.

#10, 1968

#9, 1969

🦁 '69 Topps is such a good looking card.

#8, 1964

🦁 A young Freehan looks excited to be posing in the catchers pose.

#7, 1975

🦁 The multi colored '75 Topps set were great to collect. 

#6, 1972

🦁 As a kid I saw this card and wondered why Bill was wearing a jacket under his uniform. 

#5, 1965

🦁 This is ranked fifth simply because of the card design itself.

#4. 1967

🦁 Over the last few years I've grown to like this card, using it as part of our friend Collecting Cutch and his Save Second Base posts each October. 

#3, 1971

🦁⚾️ I hadn't had this in my previous post on my favorite cards of Bill, however, the many years of card talk on social media, especially on Twitter, and my love of the '71 Topps set, has moved this awesome card skyrocketing to the 3 slot in the batting order.

#2, 1970

This is such a terrific pose of Bill during the 1969 season, as you can tell by the 100th MLB Anniversary Patch on Bill's left uniform sleeve.

#1, 1973 Topps

1️⃣ As I've mentioned previously, this card has always fascinated me, as it's the only in action card that Bill had issued by Topps.

🦁 Bill has the ball in his right hand, trying to tag out the runner...wish I'd seen this play live to know why.


Well, that's the update rankings for all of Bill's Topps base cards, 1964-77...any changes that you'd make...what's your #1 card of his?

Please comment below, and, I thank you for taking time out of your busy day to stop by andctead my blog, it's much appreciated. 

Until tomorrow, have a terrific evening, and, Play BALL!🦁 ⚾️

Monday, November 22, 2021

FREEHAN 80- Mike Matheny, Michigan Man

Mike Matheny, the current manager of the Kansas City Royals, played college baseball at Michigan, and for his Sophomore and Junior seasons as a catcher for the Wolverines, played for Manager Bill Freehan

Freehan, winner of 5 Gold Glove Awards in the big leagues,  returned to coach his Alma Mater in 1990, and had an immediate impact on Matheny. 

Matheny, originally drafted by the the Toronto Blue Jays, deciding on a Michigan education instead, then, as a Junior, was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, and Mike made his big debut on April 7, 1994.

Mike moved on to the Blue Jays as a Free Agent in 1999, then to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, winning 2 Gold Gloves, before playing his last two years of his career with the San Francisco Giants in 2005-06, winning two more Gold Gloves. 

In 2006, Matheny was given his Gold Glove Award with his mentor, Bill Freehan, in attendance at Pac Bell Park.

Matheny has been a successful manager after his playing days,including taking the Cardinals to the 2013 World Series.

Matheny was let go by the Cardinals, and, in 2019, was hired by their I-70 rivals in KC.

Thanks for stopping by the blog as I continue to post each day about my baseball hero, Bill Freehan, leading up to what would've been his 80th HappyBaseballBirthday! on Sunday.

Have a terrific week, and, as always,  Play BALL! 🐯⚾️

Sunday, November 21, 2021

FREEHAN 80- A Man of Faith

Bill Freehan was a devoted family man, as well as a devoted Catholic, so I thought I'd use this Sunday FREEHAN80 post to share my favorite Bible verse, John 3:16.

Here's a terrific story I came across while searching articles on Bill's faith. 

Hope ya'll are enjoying this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Play BALL!  ⚾️

Saturday, November 20, 2021

FREEHAN 80- Dick Brown to Bruce Kimm

I thought I'd look up and find all of the catchers that Bill Freehan can call a teammate during his 15 year career in wearing the Olde English D. 

1️⃣9️⃣6️⃣1️⃣ Bill was called up late in the 1961 season, on September 26th, playing in an 8-5 loss vs the Kansas City Athletics. 

Bill went 2-4. with an RBI, catching all 9 innings at old Municipal Stadiun in front of just 3,262 fans.

The Tigers used 5 catchers in '61 before Freehan made that start.

Dick Brown caught the most games that year (93)...

...followed by Mike Roarke (86), Frank House (17), Harry Chiti (5), and Freehan (4).

🐯 In 1976, Bill's last year playing baseball, he caught 57 games, brining his total games behind the plate at a Tigers All-Time best of 1,581.

... John Wockenfuss, and Milt May were the other catchers in the 1976 season for the Tigers. 

*** I still haven't forgiven the Tigers for issuing jersey #11 to Kimm in 1977 (He wore #46 in 1976).

(Also, I haven't forgiven the Tigers for allowing Sparky Anderson to wear #11 either.)

1️⃣9️⃣6️⃣3️⃣ Veteran catcher Gus Triandos was acquired by the Tigers to mentor Freehan during the 1963 season, catching 90 games, with Bill behind the plate for 19 games, all as a starter.

🐯 Bill also caught 15 complete games in 1963.

In all, from 1961-76, Freehan was teammates with 19 different catchers.

Dick Brown
Frank House
Harry Chiti

Gus Triandos 
John Sullivan
Jackie Moore
Orlando McFarland
Arlo Brubsberg

Jim Price

Bill Heath

Gene Lamont

Tim Hosley
Tom Haller

Duke Sims

Bob Didier

John Wockenfuss 

Terry Humphrey 
Bruce Kimm

Milt May

1️⃣9️⃣ men in a span of 15 years, as mentors, as backups, as lifelong friends, in the toughest club in baseball, the big leagues catchers club. 

📋 Well, that's it for Day 2 of FREEHAN80, thanks to all for stopping by and reading my blog. 

Have a great rest of your weekend, and, as always, Play BALL! ⚾️🐯

Friday, November 19, 2021

FREEHAN 80- First Time Without Bill

Bill Freehan passed away on August 19th of this year, at age 79.

Three months to the day of my hero's passing, I begin my 11 Day Countdown to what would've been his 80th Happy Baseball Birthday! 

For the first time since he became my hero, Bill is no longer with us, something that I'm still extremely sad about, something that I'll always be sad about.

The Tigers have lost a lot over the past couple of years, starting with the passing of Mr. TIGER, Al Kaline, in April 2020, and the loss of games and fans caused by the world wide pandemic of Covid-19.

I hope you'll join me here over the next 11 days as I once again celebrate the life of Bill Freehan.