Baseball's Ryan Freel had brain disease at suicide, report says

Dec. 16, 2013 at 3:07 PM   |   Comments

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Former pro baseball player Ryan Freel had degenerative brain disease at the time of his suicide last year, his family said in Jacksonville, Fla.

The report on Freel, 36, by the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and Sports Legacy Institute, was presented to the family last week. Evidence confirmed Freel had Stage II chronic traumatic encephalopathy at the time of his death, the (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union reported Monday.

At a memorial service marking one year since Freel's death, his stepfather, Clark Vargas, called the report "a release, in that there was a physical reason for what he did," a reference to Freel's self-inflicted shotgun wound.

Freel's eight-year career as a major league utility infielder and outfielder ended in 2010, after he sustained a number of concussions. He played for Toronto, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Chicago Cubs and Kansas City.

The family learned of the findings the day Major League Baseball announced it approved a ban on home-plate collisions between a runner and a fielder.

Freel is the first baseball player to have his brain examined by the medical center, and the first to be diagnosed with the incurable disease found predominately in the brains of athletes who participate in contact sports such as hockey, football and boxing, the newspaper noted.

Topics: Ryan Freel
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