Appropriate and painful, those video snippets running for the past couple of months.
They show Bill Freehan with his Tigers cap on backwards and his catcher’s mask tossed to the side. He settles beneath a pop-up launched by Tim McCarver that had been shot into the afternoon sun at Busch Stadium, just right of the plate. Freehan raises his catcher’s mitt and snags the ball.
And sends Detroit into ecstasy.
The scene is from 50 years ago this past October — anniversary footage as the ’68 Tigers wrap up months of celebration. Black-and-white video memorializes Freehan at the moment a final put-out seals the first Tigers world championship in 23 years. Other than their 1984 romp, it is the Tigers’ only World Series conquest since World War II.
Freehan now is under home-hospice care as he deals with the cruelty of dementia. He was diagnosed some years ago, but privacy was sought by his wife and primary care-giver, Pat, who has been Bill’s spouse for nearly 60 years.