Born: January 8, 1934|
Wheeling, West Virginia
Died: June 18, 2013 (aged 79)|
|April 13, 1955, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 3, 1966, for the Houston Astros|
|Runs batted in||432|
Eugene Lewis Freese (January 8, 1934 – June 18, 2013) was a third baseman in American Major League Baseball for 12 seasons (1955–1966). A journeyman, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (twice), St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox (twice), Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros, batting .254 in 1,115 games. Listed as 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and 175 pounds (79 kg), he batted and threw right-handed. He was nicknamed "Augie" as a Pirate rookie in 1955 by teammates after umpire Augie Donatelli, who was calling balls and strikes in Freese's first MLB game.
Despite his well-traveled resume, Freese was an important cog on the 1961 National League champion Reds. Acquired in an off-season interleague deal with the White Sox, Freese reached career highs in home runs (26) and RBI (87) and played 151 games at third base as Cincinnati won its first pennant since 1940. In the 1961 World Series, won by the New York Yankees in five games, Freese batted only .063 (1-for-16) and was the victim of one of two spectacular defensive plays by his third-base counterpart, Clete Boyer, in the Series opener.
The following year, Freese broke an ankle during a spring training intrasquad game and missed almost the entire 1962 season. He never regained his 1961 form, although he stayed in the Majors through 1966. His 877 MLB hits included 161 doubles, 28 triples and 115 home runs. He led National League third basemen in errors in 1957 and 1959.
In 1959, as a member of the Phillies, Freese caused a sensation by slugging five pinch hit home runs in a six-week period, between April 18 and May 31. Freese fell one short of the record of six pinch homers set by Johnny Frederick of Brooklyn in 1932. He didn't get the opportunity to tie or exceed Frederick's mark because Freese became the Phils' starting third baseman after the trade of Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones on June 6, and he only pinch hit twice more during the entire 1959 campaign. Freese led the majors in grand slam home runs that season with three, including one of his pinch homers.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
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