BOZEMAN - The father of a late baseball player is on a mission to collect baseball cards as a way to support his granddaughtesr.
Ryan Freel played 8 professional seasons spending most of his career with the Cincinnati Reds. In 2012, Freel died of suicide at age 36.
Freel was the first person in MLB history to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Also called CTE, it's a degenerative brain disease found in people who've incurred several head injuries. CTE can result in behavioral problems, dementia and may be linked to increased risk of suicide. It's only diagnosed by examining the brain after death.
Ryan Freel's father, Patrick Freel wants to collect his memorabilia to give to his three daughters.
Patrick Freel reached out Matthew Christian for help and Christian knew that he could.
Matthew Christian owns stacks and stacks of sports cards, but now he has been assigned a new mission, collecting Ryan Freel cards.
“I basically knew that we could find them," Christian said. "I knew that he played from 2001-2009 and I knew If I put it out there and enough people saw it, in this community, the card community, they would step up. “
However, Christian didn’t know that his post was about to go viral.
“Well I immediately walked out and I said, 'Hey babe, our address is everywhere.'”
Christian started receiving hundreds of messages and felt overwhelmed by all of the support. Christian feels he can relate to Freel's three daughters, because at the age of 10, he too lost his father.
“I know what it would mean to have something that my father had," he says, "I just thought about how special it was, how it would be not just for me but those girls to have three binders, one for each granddaughter."
Christian's only request after this is all said and done?
“My only request - and I think I told this Patrick this - but the only thing I want out of this is a picture of those three girls holding a binder together, that’s it, that’s all I want."
If you have memorabilia of Ryan Freel that you would like to donate, please send it 3737 Corwin St. Bozeman, MT 59718.