Submitted by Ben Koehler, San Antonio MSBL
One of the longtime core members of the San Antonio Bombers, #21 Freddie Douglas, passed away recently. I spent a couple years with the Bombers and can assure you that Freddie was a well-known and well-liked league favorite. The guys always have stories about playing in tournaments in Arizona, Las Vegas, Florida, the Caribbean and all over. I assume Freddie owns multiple MSBL World Series rings. Freddie has played on many teams across the country, has made many friends and will be missed.
Below is a tribute to Freddie from longtime San Antonio Bomber teammate, manager and friend Jerry Spencer:
“Freddie Douglas is a whole lot more than baseball to everyone who knew him; a man of Faith, of Family, of Dignity and Honor, but baseball was the world that brought us together, so you’ll hear a lot about that from me. Freddie was a truly gifted athlete his whole life and those gifts were never better displayed than on a baseball field. He possessed more talent for baseball than most of us and that talent opened for him a world that we could never possibly achieve. After high school, Freddie played baseball at Huston Tillotson up the road in Austin. He played the game locally in San Antonio on an amateur basis and after that Freddie went on to become a professional baseball player in Mexico, entering a world that is the dream of every kid who ever played the game enough to understand how wonderful it would be to be paid to play a game that the rest of us pay to play. He came to know and to be known by other super-talented baseball players in both countries. As life progressed, it was a rare baseball game that did not result in Freddie encountering someone he had played with or against earlier in his career. Before, during, or after the game, the old stories would be shared with anyone who cared to listen in on these encounters.
“But for all of his physical talents, Freddie’s greatest skill was to bring the rest of us into his world and to show us the joy of playing the game at the highest level we are capable of achieving. His encouragement and support made each of us feel as if we belonged in that very exclusive club, right beside him. Even though our abilities in our physical prime had not allowed us to go where Freddie had gone, he allowed each of us to feel as if we were capable of doing so. Whatever our individual limitations, Freddie guided each of us to celebrate and enjoy accomplishments and to overcome and learn from missteps on the road to becoming the best player and person we were capable of being. I stand here in awe of what may be the most outstanding talent of a very talented man.
“Over the years, Freddie and I spent a lot of time together in baseball dugouts. While we talked a lot about baseball, we also talked a lot about life. Over the last couple of years, we talked about the best time to start drawing social security payments and the best way to sign up for medicare. Now I’m betting that’s not a conversation not often heard between players on a baseball team. I came to know Freddie’s deep abiding love for his wife Carolyn and his family. We talked about how much he loved babysitting his granddaughter and how much he enjoyed life after retirement. In the hospital a few days ago, Carolyn shared with me how they had been childhood sweethearts and it showed. The absolute devotion to each other that we see in their life today is the product of a strong, steady love built over years. Even though their enjoyment of retirement together was not as long as they had hoped for, it is obvious that they did not need retirement to enjoy each other’s companionship for many, many years.
“Freddie was a bit of a philosopher about life and his calm, cool approach to the joys and challenges of life in general are beautifully summed up in his routine encouragements whenever the moment, the game, the series or the championship hung in the balance. As the pressure mounted on the batter at the plate, or the player in the field, or the pitcher on the mound, Freddie’s unmistakable voice would be heard coming from the dugout: “Hey, Cool if you do; cool if you don’t!” And I believe that there is the essence of Freddie’s philosophy. Do your best; try as hard as you can to achieve the outcome we are all hoping and maybe even praying for, but in the end this is a game and the sun will come up tomorrow whether we succeed or fail at this moment. I mentioned that Freddie was a man of Faith and I know that even though we will not see Freddie tomorrow, tomorrow will still come for Freddie.
“Our baseball team has a ritual after every game. The team gathers around coach Wyatt’s back yard or behind coach Held’s car to spend a few more minutes or in some cases hours together as the brothers we are, reliving our glories or licking our wounds. Attendance is almost mandatory and participation is basically universal, but Freddie was almost always one of the first to call it a day or a night and head back to the rest of his family. When the time comes, most of us will announce our departure a few minutes before it actually happens and then go around the circle shaking hands and hugging our brothers, gather our things and leave with loud words and waves goodbye. Not Freddie. Freddie is known for his ninja-like departures. One minute he would be enjoying a chicken bratworst, laughing, joking, teasing, encouraging or congratulating and the next minute he was nowhere to be found, off on the road home to Carolyn without a word to anyone about leaving.
“Guys, he’s done it again. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. His fastidious devotion to living a clean, healthy lifestyle made it possible for this great man to walk among us, laughing, joking, teasing, encouraging, congratulating and loving right up to his last day. As much as we miss him, let’s take comfort from that.”
Added teammate Randy Mendoza, “Freddie blessed us with 20 years as a member of the San Antonio Bombers, which also included 13 city championships, various state championships and seven MSBL World Series titles in the Federal, Continental and five of those in the top National division. He will be missed both on and off the field.”