RYAN FREEL'S LEGACY
Ryan Freel played second base, third base, and all three outfield positions in his major league career. He was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1994 amateur entry draft, but did not sign. A year later, he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 10th round of the 1995 amateur draft. Freel played 6 seasons in the Toronto minor league system before making his Major League debut on April 4, 2001. He only played in 9 games for the Blue Jays in his rookie year, hitting .273 with 0 home runs, 3 RBI and 2 stolen bases. After the season was over, Freel was granted free agency and signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Freel played the entire 2002 season in the minor leagues with the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Devil Rays. He hit .261 with 8 home runs, 48 RBI, and 37 steals. On November 18, 2002, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent.
In five seasons with the Reds, Freel hit .270 with 22 home runs, 104 runs batted in, and 134 stolen bases. His best season for the Reds was in 2004, when he hit .277 with 3 home runs, 28 RBI, 37 stolen bases, and 74 runs scored in 143 games. In 2007, Freel signed a two-year, $3 million contract extension with the Reds. (wikipedia.com)
By now, you have all heard the horrible news about Ryan Freel. While none of us could have anticipated that Ryan would take his life, and none of us will ever understand why, upon reflection we have come to realize two things. First, that this final act was something Ryan planned to do and none of his friends or family or colleagues or teammates could have prevented. In subtle ways, over the past months he made peace with people, said his goodbyes and drafted a succession plan for his beloved BLD. Second, Ryan loved his daughters, loved all kids and was at peace on the field, playing and teaching baseball. Ryan spent every day thinking and talking about kids and baseball and he saw BLD as his life's work.
It was part of Ryan's "plan" that BLD continue and the BLD coaches and staff feel that the best way to honor Ryan's life is to keep his dream alive of big league development. We will dedicate this and every future season to the memory of Ryan. His love for his daughters and his players and his sheer determination to turn every single into a double will continue to inspire us. We are all so upset and confused and angry and hurt and helpless. The one feeling we all agree on is that we miss him and we will keep on missing him.
After the holidays, the BLD Board will meet and plan for the upcoming season. We will communicate that information to all of you as soon as possible.
The BLD Coaches and Staff
All team BLD practices and Home games are held at Davis Park, 210 Davis Park Rd., Ponte Vedra, FL 32082. Davis Park is located on Palm Valley Road/Nocatee Parkway, a half-mile west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
"If you're not having fun in baseball, you miss the point of everything" Chris Chambliss, New York Yankees