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Bill Freehan's 1968 Glove

Detroit Tiger Bill Freehan, the best catcher in the American League during his prime, accomplished a great deal on the diamond from 1961 until he retired after the 1976 season. He was an 11-time All-Star, 1964-1973 and 1975; five-time Gold Glove winner, 1965-1969; tied with Elston Howard for highest-ever fielding average for a catcher, .993; slugged 200 home runs and batted .262 lifetime. He was 2nd in the voting for the A.L. MVP in 1968 and 3rd in 1967.

This glove was used by Freehan in the 1968 World Series to tag out Cardinal Lou Brock at home plate in the 5th inning of Game 5, turning the Series around. (The Cards were up in the Series, three games to one, until this play, when the Tigers stormed back to take the next three games and the Championship). On the glove, in his hand is written “Free 11.” (He wore #11.) In later years, he signed it and wrote his date of birth on it.

Freehan's greatest strengths did not show up on the stat sheets. A thinking man's catcher, he proved himself an excellent handler of young and veteran pitchers, including Jim Bunning, Mickey Lolich, Denny McLain, Earl Wilson, Joe Sparma and John Hiller. During his playing days, Freehan dominated the tough catching position in his league just as his counterpart in the National League at that time, Johnny Bench, did, which is why I know he belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bill Freehan

Related links:

See 1968 Tiger Jim Northrup's World Series uniform.

See the catcher's mitt used by Bob Feller's father when he played catch with his future Hall of Fame son.