Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June 4,1924: Howard Freigau Lights Up The Phillies

     On June 4, 1924, Howard Freigau led the way in a 12-5 Cardinals win over the  Phillies at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. The Redbirds third baseman rapped out 4 hits in 5 trips to the plate, stole four bases, and knocked in five of the Cardinals runs, while crossing the dish once himself. The '24 season is not a celebrated season, as the club posted a 65-89 record. However, there were days like this one when the sun shined bright for the boys who wore the Birds on the Bat.

      Freigau made his debut with the Birds in September of 1922. He played in just three games that season, before taking over at shortstop in 1923. He hit .269 that season, then flirted with .300 in '24, as he fell just one point short of the mark. Freigau was traded to the Cubs after just appearing in nine games in 1925. That '25 season proved to be his best as he hit .307 and knocked in 71 runs. However, what the Cardinals got in return for the young utility player was a 30 year old catcher by the name of Bob O'Farrell who put together an MVP season in 1926 and was key in bringing St. Louis its first World Series title in the modern era.

     Freigau could play any of the infield positions, which made him a valuable member of a major league roster. After three seasons in The Windy City, Freigau spent time in a  Brooklyn Robins uniform, as well as the uniform of the Boston Braves. The last time he held a bat at the major league level was for the Braves at the end of the '28 season. That did not mean his days on the diamond were over though. He spent time in the American Association, as well as the Southern Association where he was able to play the game until he was tragically killed in 1932.

     The incident that took Freigau's life was one that will make you shake your head in disbelief. According to Bury My Heart at Cooperstown, Salacious, Sad,  and Surreal Deaths in The History of Baseball by Frank Russo and Gene Racz, Freigau was was playing for the Knoxville Smokies in '32, and after a long hot day he decided to take a late night swim. It was a decision that would cost him his life, as he unknowingly dove into the shallow end of a pool head first and broke his neck and drowned. He was only 29 at the time.

     Before that fateful day came Freigau had hit .272 in a big league career that stretched over seven seasons, and before that part of his life as a professional baseball player began he had been an all around athlete that excelled in basketball at Ohio State. The way is life ended is unfortunate, but everything that came before it is what matters the most, and 90 years ago today was a great day in the life of Howard Freigau. In the end, it is much more important to remember how a person lived their life, rather than how their life came to a close.

Check out the box score here:

You can look at Friegau's numbers here:

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