“He’s a little guy who lives in my head who talks to me and I talk to him. That little midget in my head said, ‘That was a great catch, Ryan,’ I said, ‘Hey, Farney, I don’t know if that was you who really caught that ball, but that was pretty good if it was.’ Everybody thinks I talk to myself, so I tell ’em I’m talking to Farney.”
He was none too bright but that does not matter in baseball, in fact, probably detracts. He was interesting. He did not give the standard boring baseball interview. He even called a former teammate “clubhouse poison,” describing a cardinal sin in baseball, where months in close quarters require a pleasant outlook and good sense of humor.
Farney committed suicide on December 22, 2012. I knew he had two DUI’s under his belt, but did not know the beginning of it. A postmortem examination showed that he was suffering from Stage II chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Too many concussions. This was the first solid scientific evidence of a connection between depression, suicide and sports injuries.
Freel left behind a lovely wife and a daughter. God rest ye, Farney. You were a good one.
Real Sports, an HBO presentation with Bryan Gumbel, Frank Deford and others, did a panel discussion on concussions in football, and it was a head-slapping moment for me. “Of course!” The panel suggests now that the domestic violence in the NFL is one symptom, along with the depressions and suicides, suggesting that repeated blows to the head are producing angry, violent and suicidally depressed young men.
Please note that panel member Bernard Goldberg uses the opportunity to state, without a shred of evidence, that the Russians shot down that jetliner in the Ukraine. This is America, and we cannot escape American propaganda, but this segment warrants attention even as Bernie goes batshit berserk.