(WXYZ) — Former Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan has died, the team announced. He was 79.
Freehan played his entire 15-year career for the Tigers from 1961 through 1976 and appeared in 1,774 games.
He was an all-star in all 11 seasons that he was the team's catcher, and was the runner-up for MVP in the 1968 World Series, just losing out to Mickey Lolich.
He also won five straight Gold Gloves between 1965-1969 and held the MLB record for highest career fielding percentage until 2002.
Freehan had been suffering from dementia and was under the care of Hospice of Michigan at his home in Northern Michigan, according to a 2019 Detroit Free Press article.
The Detroit Tigers released the following statement on Thursday regarding his passing:
"It’s with a heavy heart that all of us with the Detroit Tigers extend our condolences to the friends and family of Bill Freehan. An all-time great Tiger, the Olde English ‘D’ was the only logo he wore over his 15-year Major League career, during which he was named to 11 All-Star teams, won five-straight Gold Glove awards and played a key role on the 1968 World Series Championship team. Off the diamond, Freehan made a positive impact in the southeast Michigan community, including as a player and then coach at the University of Michigan, where he changed the lives of many for the better. Our thoughts are with Bill’s wife, Pat, and the entire Freehan family."