Ryan Freel was one of those baseball players that make fans love the game, just that much more – he made the big plays with what looked to be a complete disregard for his own body. As the first anniversary of his death approaches, it has been brought to light that Freel suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as reported by USA Today, December 15.
Freel took his own life December 22, 2012 – he was 36 years of age, and until now questions have gone largely unanswered as to why.
Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine are casting Freel as the first Major League Baseball player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. - http://www.bu.edu/cste/about/what-is-cte/
CTE has been present in football and the NFL, and has been linked to the suicides of former players.
Since 2002 when CTE was first discovered in former football player Mike Webster, the disease has been found in 50 additional players, one as young as 17.
"The real important issue is that he hit his head multiple times -- small hits, big hits, in baseball and outside of baseball," said Robert Stern, co-founder of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at BU.
"When it comes to the development of CTE, our current sense is that it requires repetitive brain trauma and not just a couple of big concussions."
The only way to definitively diagnose CTE is to perform brain scans after death. Freel was found to have had Stage 2 CTE, which can cause: rage, impulsivity and depression.
During Freel’s 8-year MLB career, Freel estimated that he had 10 concussions.
For several years prior to his death, Freel struggled with depression as-well-as drug and alcohol abuse.
These types of problems show up with other players who had CTE raise questions about how big a role the disease plays in suicides among players.
This season, concussion injuries were the reason for 18 MLB players to be placed on the Disabled List -- 10 of them were catchers.
MLB announced this past Wednesday that it intends to eliminate home plate collisions by 2015. Former Cincinnati Reds player Pete Rose is not in favor of the move.
“What’s next? Are they going to eliminate the takeout slide on double plays at second base?” Rose said to reporter Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News.
Pete Rose ruined the career of Ray Fosse during the 1970 All-Star game with a violent collision at home plate.