Pitcher who once struck out Ruth dies

Sept. 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Olney Ray "Lefty" Freeman, a southpaw college pitcher from North Carolina who boasted of once striking out Babe Ruth, has died. He was 98.

Freeman was a pitcher for North Carolina State in Fayetteville, N.C., in 1935 when the collegiate team played an exhibition game against the Boston Braves, a squad that included the legendary Ruth. Freeman recounted the tale of an up-and-down at-bat against Ruth that included a wayward pitch nearly striking the slugger in the head. Freeman bested the man many consider the greatest slugger of all-time with a 3-2 curveball, at which Ruth swung so hard that when he missed he landed on the seat of his pants.

The exhibition was eventually called off when the teams ran out of baseballs to use.

The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer said Freeman had, in his later years, become a staple at his alma mater's baseball games and was once asked to throw out the first pitch on opening day.

Freeman, who died Saturday, went on to serve in World War II and later became a farmer.

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