By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
George and Gene Freese were Wheeling natives who made their separate ways into baseball’s Major Leagues many years ago.
If memory serves, each of them enjoyed a stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates – together for a year – in times when that organization was really successful over long periods.
This comes to mind with word arriving here that Gene, youngest of the two brothers, has died at the age of 79 on June 19 in Metairie, La.
George Freese, who played both football and baseball at West Virginia University in 1946 and 47, reportedly still lives in Oregon. He was a quarterback and lettered in 1946-47.
Gene was a three-sport standout at West Liberty State College (now University) for two years.
Both brothers were graduates of Wheeling High School, where they also excelled in athletics. Gene, who was born on Jan, 8, 1934, graduated from high school in 1951.
He began his 12-year Major League baseball career with Pittsburgh in 1955, George already was a veteran at that time and they played together for that season.
Gene, a third basemen, also played stretches with the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, and most notably the 1961 Cincinnati Red who were National Champions. He then retired as a player and managed the Class AA Shrevesport (La.) Captains in the minor leagues before leaving organized baseball. He had spent most of his adult life in the New Orleans area, where he played his minor league baseball.
Gene is a member of the Wheeling City Hall of Fame, the Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame, the Diamond Club Hall of Fame, and the New
Orleans Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.
Wheeling residents will tell you that even though both brothers traveled extensively, they still remained very proud of Wheeling and
Gene, who was well-liked and respected in New Orleans, raised his family in that famed city.
Funeral services were held on Monday.
George Freese, who also was a third baseman, lettered in baseball just one season at WVU. That was in 1947. It was in 1955 that he and Gene played together in Pittsburgh. He saw action in 51 games and batted .257. George also had short stints with Detroit and the Chicago Cubs. But he spent 17 years in the minor leagues.