Bill Freehan lies on a hospital bed in the middle of the room.
The World Series is on the TV.
“Boston is playing,” Pat Freehan tells Bill, her husband.
But she doesn’t know whether he can fully understand her.
Freehan, an 11-time All-Star with the Detroit Tigers, cannot walk, cannot speak and cannot eat on his own.
“Is he aware?” Pat asks. “I don’t know. Those are the things you don’t know."
"But his World Series trophy is on the mantel," she says.
Fifty years after helping the Tigers win the 1968 World Series, Bill Freehan suffers from dementia and is under the care of Hospice of Michigan at his home in northern Michigan.
Pat Freehan, Bill's wife of 55 years, is his primary caregiver.
If Bill Freehan, 76, was an example of how to play the game the right way, how to live life with character, then his wife is teaching us something even more important. It is a beautiful lesson in sacrifice, love and devotion. She feeds him. She moves him. She cares for him. She prays with him.
She does darn near everything.
The Freehans have been extremely private and guarded about Bill’s condition for years, but now Pat has decided to share details about her husband’s situation because she feels indebted to Hospice of Michigan. She is telling her husband’s story as part of a $5 million fundraising campaign that features dozens of sports celebrities, including Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and my colleague, Free Press sports columnist Mitch Albom.
Going public “is not something that I really wanted to do, but I felt they have been so gracious,” Pat said of Hospice of Michigan. “Done everything they have promised. I just love the people who have helped me.”
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