Some of the Top Cards of 1976

Monday, August 30, 2010

1976 Topps #540 - Bill Freehan


  • The 1976 season was the final year of a long and successful career for Bill Freehan. Freehan was  born in Detroit and spent his entire career playing for his hometown ballclub.
  • Freehan won five straight Gold Glove awards (1965-1969) and was an AL All Star 11 times (1964-1973, 1975).
  • Bill was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1961. He played in the minors in 1961 and was brought up for a short look (4 for 10 in four games) at the end of the 1961 season. Freehan spent the 1962 season with AAA Denver and then came back to the Tigers to stay in 1963. Polished Pro at 21 - July 1963 Baseball Digest 
  • Freehan backed up Gus Triandos at catcher and also played some first base in 1963. He batted .243 with nine home runs in 100 games.
  • Bill took over the starting catcher position in 1964 and didn't relinquish it for several years. Freehan batted .300 with 18 HR and 80 RBI in 144 games and finished 7th in MVP voting. He threw out 53% of opposing base stealers to lead the AL.
  • Freehan had off-years at the plate in 1965 (.234, 10 HR) and in 1966 (.234, 12 HR).  Baseball's Next Superstar? - May 1965 Baseball Digest. In 1967 Bill was hit by a pitch 20 times to lead the AL and also led the league with 15 intentional walks. Freehan batted .282 with 20 HR and 74 RBI in 1967 and finished 3rd in MVP voting.
  • The Tigers won it all in 1968 and Freehan was a big part of that ballclub. Bill finished second to teammate Denny McLain in MVP voting as he batted .263 with 25 HR and 84 RBI. He also led the AL in hit by pitch again with 24. Bill went 2 for 28 (.083) in the 1968 World Series.
  • In 1969 Freehan batted .262 with 16 HR and 49 RBI. Bill missed the last month of the 1970 season when he had spinal surgery and batted .241 with 16 HR in 117 games.
  • Freehan batted .277 with 21 HR and 71 RBI in 148 games in 1971. Bill played in 111 games in 1972 and batted .262 with 10 HR and 56 RBI. Bill fractured  his right thumb late in the 1972 season and the Oakland A's took some baserunning liberties on him in the American League Championship Series. He batted .250 (3 for 12) in the 1972 ALCS. In 1973 Bill started to play less often behind the plate as manager Billy Martin decided to platoon him. He batted .234 with six HR in 110 games in 1973.
  • Bill started more games at first base (65) than at catcher (64) in 1974. It was the first season since 1964 that he didn't make the AL All Star team. Freehan batted .297 with 18 HR and 60 RBI in 1974. After the 1974 season Freehan was almost traded to the Philadelphia Phillies with Mickey Stanley for Bob Boone but the Phillies cancelled the deal at the last minute.
  • The 1975 season was Bill's last one as a full-time player. He batted .246 with 14 HR and 47 RBI in 120 games. Freehan started 62 games at catcher in his final season (1976) and batted .270 with five home runs in 71 total games. The Tigers released Bill after the 1976 season and he retired.
  • After his playing career Bill coached Lance Parrish and taught him some things about catching. Freehan also was a successful businessman in the Detroit area. He did some broadcasting for the Seattle Mariners (1979-1980) and the Tigers (1984-1985). Freehan was the head coach of the University of Michigan baseball team from 1989-1995. He was disturbed by reports of problems with the baseball program and his tenure restored the program's integrity. Bill also served as the Tigers' organizational catching instructor from 2002-2005.
  • Where are They Now? - June 1989 Baseball Digest
  • Turn Back the Clock - June 2000 Baseball Digest
  • Freehan's SABR biography.
  • Bill Freehan's All Star Games:
    • 1964 - selected but did not play
    • 1965 - substitute (1 for 1, BB)
    • 1966 - starting catcher (1 for 2)
    • 1967 - starting catcher (0 for 5)
    • 1968 - starting catcher (0 for 2)
    • 1969 - starting catcher (2 for 2, 2 RBI, HR off of Steve Carlton)
    • 1970 - starting catcher (0 for 1)
    • 1971 - starting catcher (0 for 3)
    • 1972 - starting catcher (0 for 1, BB, run scored)
    • 1973 - selected but did not play
    • 1975 - selected but did not play
  • Liked to face: Jack Hamilton (.533 in 15 AB); Ross Grimsley (.483 in 29 AB); Frank Bertaina (.450 in  20 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rick Wise (.000 in 22 AB); Gaylord Perry (.040 in 25 AB); Earl Wilson (.094 in 32 AB)

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