- P, OF, 1B, 2B, 3B
- October 30, 1871
- 5' 9"
- 169 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 6-27-1891 with WS9
This 5'11" 160-lb slugger preceded Babe Ruth by a generation, but could have been the prototype for the future home run champion. A lefthanded pitcher converted to the outfield because of his outstanding hitting, Freeman was one of the premier power hitters of baseball's dead-ball era.
A native of Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, Freeman showed talent as a pitcher from a young age. He made his major league debut as a left-handed starter with the Washington Statesmen on June 27, 1891, registering the loss in a 4-5 defeat to the Philadelphia Athletics. Freeman played in a further four games during the season, finishing up with a 3-2 record and an earned run average of 3.89.
Following the 1891 season's conclusion he did not play in the majors again for seven years. He played in the Eastern League with Toronto from 1896 to 1898 and returned to the Washington roster midway through the 1898 season. During the intervening time Freeman had bulked out and had begun to show real skill with the bat (in his 18 at bats in 1891 he had recorded a batting average of .222). In light of this the Senators decided to retrain Freeman as a right fielder, believing that he would be even more useful with the bat than he was with the ball. Albeit with only 107 at bats, he recorded a .364 batting average and a .523 slugging percentage during the final months of the 1898 season. Following his strong showing with the bat, he was named as the Senators' first-choice right fielder for the following season.
In his first full ML season, 1899, Freeman hit 25 home runs for Washington to lead the National League. This total, only two fewer than Ned Williamson's record of 27 in 1884, was not surpassed until Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Moving to the Red Sox of the newly formed American League in 1901, he finished second in HR for two years before leading with 13 in 1903. (Freeman and Sam Crawford are the only players to have led both the AL and NL in home runs.) In both 1902 and 1903, Freeman was the AL leader in RBI.
Strong-armed but erratic in the field, Freeman was tried at first base, but was at his best in right field. His heavy hitting, especially in clutch situations, carried the Red Sox to two pennants (1903-04), and victory in the first modern World Series, in 1903.
In the three years following Boston's World Series success Freeman's offense declined sharply. In 1906: he managed a .250 average with one home run and 30 RBI. After that, he decided to play for one further season, but was released by Boston after only four games of the 1907 season after going 2-for-12, including a home run. He went on to finish the season with the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association, recording an average of .335 and scoring 18 home runs. Following this successful season he decided to spend a further season with the Millers. The 1908 season was Freeman's last in professional baseball, in which he managed to score 10 home runs albeit with an average of .218.
In an 11-season career, Freeman was a .293 hitter (1235-for-4208) with 82 home runs and 713 RBI in 1126 games, including 199 doubles, 131 triples, 92 stolen bases, a slugging percentage of .462, and a .346 on base percentage.
Freeman died at the age of 77 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
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- Boston Beaneaters, Boston Red Sox, Buck Freeman, Philadelphia Athletics, Pitcher, Washington Senators