There is no good time to receive news like this. The holidays shouldn’t make the news of a young man’s untimely passing any more painful or tragic. Especially when all reports suggest a 36-year old man took his own life.

Former big league outfielder Ryan Freel, best known for his time with the Reds after being drafted in the tenth round of the 1995 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, is dead at 36.

This terrible story is, unfortunately, far from unique. Spending the better part of eight years in a Major League uniform certainly shines a light on areas which remain darkened far too often. Baseball isn’t immune to the fears, concerns, and uncertainty of CTE and mental health issues. Perhaps one is related to the other, perhaps not. Whatever the catalyst this is a sad day for baseball.

Ryan Freel was a colorful baseball player, a man who made headlines for his eccentricities and “little friend” as much as his play on the field – not to mention his struggles with the ongoing effects of multiple concussions.

It won’t be clear for a long time — if at all — that these brain injuries factored into Freel’s ultimate decision to end his life. Freel left a family and a legacy of community work, coaching youth baseball near his home in Jacksonville, Florida.