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Former Major Leaguer Ryan Freel Dies at Age 36

The Major League Baseball world was dealt a sad blow Saturday night with the death of utility man and former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ryan Freel.

FirstCoastNews.com reporter Chad Cushnir had the initial report:

First Coast News sports director Dan Hicken has learned that Ryan Freel, a Jacksonville native and former Major League Baseball (player) has died at the age of 36.  The cause of death is suicide.

Justin Barney and Dana Treen of The Florida Times-Union gave more details on this sad situation:

Freel, 36, was found dead from a self-inflicted shotgun blast around 4 p.m. in his residence on Brookchase Lane in Jacksonville, Sgt. Mike Paul of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

Paul said that there was nothing suspicious and authorities were treating Freel’s death as a suicide.

Certain events put things into perspective, even for the most avid baseball fans. Saturday's news hits home because of its tragic nature, but also because Freel was just 36 years old.

The report mentions that, following his retirement in 2009, "Freel was a part of an organization on the First Coast called BLD Baseball which stands for Big League Development. Through this organization, Freel coached local youth baseball players." 

Even after retirement, he managed to show how much he loved the game of baseball by passing his knowledge down to the next generation of players.

In his eight-year career, Freel hit .268 with 22 home runs, 143 stolen bases and 122 RBI. He played six seasons with the Reds, but he also played with four other teams. 

He was a player who always brought a ton of heart and effort to the field for each and every game. His speed set him apart, but he was a valuable player wherever he went. Freel's heart and tenacity on the diamond were unmatched.

This is sad news no matter how you cut it. Details are not available regarding the specific situation, but more information should become available in the coming days.

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his family, friends and former teammates during this trying time. 

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