CTE in baseball: The Ryan Freel tragedy

CTE seems to be something we know very little about. We have seen it mostly in the NFL. It happens due to head injuries and too many conclusions. Years of abuse to the brain. The list of stars who have suffered or might in the future is overwhelming. I love Hockey, slightly below Baseball but still. A player I loved growing up was Eric Lindros. Hard playing maniac who by the end of his career had over 12 concussions. CTE might affect him. Junior Seua in the NFL.

Baseball has one known case…. Ryan Freel. The hard working utility man who had more concussions then he did seasons in the MLB. He played 9 career years and had well over 12 concussions among other issues with his brain. He had an imaginary friend named Farney who he would talk to out loud in the club house at times. Other times he would credit Farney for his insane catches. He had off field issues as well having been arrested twice for DUI.

I remember him for his hard slides into bases, his hustle and his fight. The guy worked hard as it appeared and that has always been something i admired. I believe he needed baseball to survive, he needed routine and structure. His career ended in 09′, he took his own life in 2012. His family sent his brain to be studied and the results showed CTE. Making him the 1st known MLB case.

CTE is serious and it is painful for anyone who has it or has to deal with it. Brain injuries drastically effect who we are and in this case it destroyed a hard working family man. More needs to be done though i offer no insight on how to do so. I have no idea if a doctor can find CTE in a living brain. I would assume no. It has destroyed countless athletes and others who have not been effected yet.

Take concussions seriously, its a form of brain damage. Anything past 4 to 6 is a series issue. Most who have CTE had over 8 concussions. They seem to be related but again I am not a doctor, I just stayed at a holiday inn express last night.

“Freel was also diagnosed with various mental illnesses such as bipolar disorderadult ADHDdepressionimpulse control disorder, and anxiety. Additional mental illnesses are consistent with many athletes who also suffer from CTE once their playing careers are finished”-Wiki

I was a male nanny for a lesbian couple with a son and a daughter. I helped the son learn sports but when he joined the football team he got a concussion and broke his arm in one week. He was 9. I told them not to send him to football and instead he switched to basketball and baseball. 9 years old is too young for a head injury in my book.

Ryan Freel had several bad injuries throughout his career but the worst and perhaps the knockout punch was when he collided head first into a teammate.

“On May 28, 2007, Freel was injured in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates when chasing a deep drive to right-center field. Freel and right fielder Norris Hopper collided, resulting in Freel’s head and neck hitting Hopper and finally the warning track. He was transported by ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was reported to be coherent with feeling in his extremities.”-wiki

These injuries affected him mentally. I believe he was never the same. He left three children and a wife behind due to the pain that his own mind caused. An illness that was created from working hard at his craft. He couldn’t escape his own mind and in the end it cost him his life. The eternal struggle to find peace came only in death for a man who many looked up too. He had a youth baseball organization and he inspired many children over the years including the one writing this article.

RIP Ryan Freel, though your mind destroyed you perhaps in the future the knowledge from it will save another.

Published by 27 Down Sports Podcast

Two bros talking sports. Born on Jackie Robinson day in 1988, I was destined to love baseball. My passion for sports meets CJs love for stats. This is 27 Down, the perfect podcast for the Perfect game.

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