Monday, September 26, 2016

A hot and tragic day in July 1932

It was just past the middle of July, 1932. A heat wave was enveloping Knoxville. On Sunday the 18th, the high was 92 and it didn't hit the low of 80 until midnight. Monday would reach 93.

The Smokies were in Chattanooga where they had split a double header with the Lookouts of the Southern Association. As a matter of fact, all the league teams that played that day split their doubleheaders. The Smokies were trying to climb out of the bottom of the standings. After Sunday's games they were in seventh place, 41-56. Only the Crackers of Atlanta had a more dismal record at that point in the season.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 18, 1932

Howard Freigau hadn't played in a major league game since September 29, 1928 for the Boston Braves.  That day he pinch hit against the St. Louis Cardinals\, the major league team that he started with in 1922.  He didn't collect a hit.

In the early morning hours of Monday, July 18th R. H. Griffith. a resident at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club invited Freigau to escape the heat of the day in the club's pool.  Freigau dove into the pool from a 20 foot tower and hit his head on the concrete bottom.  He was stunned and drowned.  He was pronounced dead by the Lookouts' team physician, Dr. H. Quigg Fletcher.

The story was reported on page one of The Knoxville News-Sentinel that very day.

There was an article on the sports page about Freigau hoping to get back to the big league.

His wife, the attractive Mrs. Mildred Freigau, left her home in Knoxville to tend to her husband's body in Chattanooga.

The Arkansas Gazette reported that at the time of his death he was batting better than .340.

The Smokies beat the Lookouts in the game that Monday by a score of 5-2.  The Knoxville club finished at the bottom of the Southern Association with a 60-93 record.

Howard Earl Freigau is buried at the Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

NOTE: It was the sudden and unexpected death of José Fernandez of the Miami Marlins that spurred this post.

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