Ryan Freel was a great player to watch. His skills may have been limited, but he could play all over the field, putting out max energy in every game. And while that may sound like a cliche, the nine to ten concussions Freel suffered during his career he claims, certainly support the notion. But once again, we’re reminded of the person behind the baseball player as Ryan Freel was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot.
And there will be a number of articles that question how much the multiple concussions had to do with. And while there is a study that points to multiple concussions causing depression, there is no proof that there were any links for Freel.
And as Marc Lancaster wrote for Eye on Baseball, Freel seemingly struggled with mental health his entire life.
“It became almost a daily routine in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse in the mid-2000s. Ryan Freel would do something, or say something, or a look a certain way, and those who were around him on a regular basis immediately could deduce whether “Good Freel” or “Bad Freel” had showed up to work that day.
The difference was stark. Some days, the Reds’ usually frenetic utilityman would simply sit in his chair and stare into his locker, not interacting with anyone about anything. Other days, he would bounce around the room, greeting anyone in his path — teammates, clubhouse attendants, reporters — with over-the-top enthusiasm and occasionally a bear hug.”
And while Lancaster’s observations are interesting and, perhaps, revealing, again, they are still recollections from an outsider looking in. They are a series of memories that seem to fit the image of Freel we now have.
The point is that Freel’s death is tragic and no matter how much we try to explain it away, to make sense of it, chances are there is reason that we as outsiders could hope to understand. Ryan Freel must have struggled mightily over these last days, weeks, years, and hopefully he has found some greater peace now.