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Gene Freese

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Eugene Lewis Freese
(Augie)

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[edit] Biographical Information

The younger brother of George Freese by seven years, Gene Freese , a 21-year-old rookie, showed flashes of power with 14 homers while alternating between second and third base in his first trip to the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1955. On March 25, 1953 Gene had been signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent and he had spent two years in the minors before showing up at Forbes Field in 1955.

He eventually became primarily a third baseman in a dozen-year major league stay. After hitting a career high .283 in 1957, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals by the Pirates along with Johnny O'Brien for Dick Schofield and cash. While with the Cardinals, he and Curt Flood hit back-to-back homers leading off a game on August 17, 1958. This was only the fifth time in National League history that this had been done. The opposing pitcher was a young 22-year-old lefthander named Sandy Koufax.

Freese changed uniforms again in 1959. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Solly Hemus and blasted 23 homers for the Phillies including a pair as a pinch hitter on April 18th and 23rd, in consecutive at-bats off the bench. He continued to be on the move: he was traded to the defending American League champion Chicago White Sox (for Johnny Callison) in 1960, then back to the National League to help the Cincinnati Reds win the pennant in 1961 with 26 homers and 87 RBIs.

After being sidelined for most of the 1962 season with a broken ankle suffered in spring training, he drifted around for second tours with the Pirates and White Sox before finishing out his 12-year major league career with the Houston Astros in 1966. He appeared in 1,115 games with 877 base hits, including 115 homers for a .254 average.

Gene played two more seasons in the minors, all in AAA ball and hung up his playing spikes in 1968 after 16 active seasons in pro baseball. Freese played in all or part of six seasons in the minors, appearing in 612 games, banging out 650 base hits, including 69 homers for a minor league career batting average of .288.

Freese returned to baseball as manager of the Shreveport Captains of the Texas League for a year and a half. He led the team to a 70-68 record in 1973 but was replaced mid-year by Ken McBride in 1974. After baseball Gene later owned a nightclub, Third Base Inc., in New Orleans, LA. He passed away in that city in 2013.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 20-Home Runs Seasons: 2 (1959 & 1961)

[edit] Sources

Baseball-Reference.com
Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball: Third Edition
Baseball Players of the 1950s
SABR MILB Database:page

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