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Reds Country Mourns Death of Ryan Freel

Updated on December 23, 2012

Shocking Suicide of Beloved Player

by Robb Hoff

December 23, 2012

If you've ever felt the rush of running full sprint for a fly ball, only to realize at full speed that you were going to have to decide in a split instant to dive headlong, regardless of the consequences of the imminent collision with the ground -- you would've appreciated the way former Cincinnati Reds outfielder and utility man Ryan Freel played the game.

Freel played the game all out, all the time, and fans of the mediocre Reds teams in the not so distant past, loved Freel for the way he played the game. Furthermore, Freel was smaller than most players and blessed with far less naturally ability than many of his teammates, like Ken Griffey, Jr., Adam Dunn or Brandon Phillips.

For that, Freel endeared himself to the fans of Reds Country in a way like their native son Pete Rose had done -- through hustle and sheer determination all of the time. While Freel's success never neared that of his Rose, for a far briefer time, the size of Freel's heart for the game did.

For the 2004, 2005 and 2006 season particularly, Freel was much more than just an emblem or role player for the team. His hustle and determination translated to results and he was a key component of a team trying to regain some hold on success that had become customary for the team and its fans in the past.

But much of the expectation that were held for Freel started to unravel as injuries continued to take their toll on him through his reckless style of play. His departure from the game was ultimately swift and largely unnoticed.

Largely unnoticed until now.

His death is a shock. And there will be questions regarding the impact of concussions and mental health upon Freel. The questions will be much like those that surrounded the suicide of NFL star Junior Seau, only the questions related to Freel will likely remain largely unnoticed because Freel didn't play football and he wasn't a star or played for a big-market team.

Yet, clearly the problems that besieged Freel were of the gravest magnitude.

Hopefully, there will be something positive come of the senseless tragedy, but it's hard to imagine what that might be right now.

The link below is from a former Cincinnati Post beat writer who knew Freel fairly well. It's definitely worth reading for honoring the memory of one of the more beloved Reds in recent team history.

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