On Saturday, October 8, 1887, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported that “Julius Freeman, a young twirler who pitched for and won the championship for the Fort Smith club of the Southwestern League… will be given a trial on Sunday. He will pitch for the champions against the Clevelands.”1 The next morning, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch listed the lineups for the game that day, including Freeman as the pitcher for St. Louis.2 The Browns had clinched the pennant weeks earlier, and would finish 14 games ahead of second-place Cincinnati. This was the last game of the season. The championship series with Detroit was scheduled to start on October 10, so it made sense to give an untested pitcher a tryout while resting the regular starters. Instead, the game was started by Silver King, with no explanation provided as to why Freeman did not start. Freeman would have to wait one year and one day before making his debut with the Browns on October 10, 1888.
Julius Benjamin Freeman was born November 7, 1868, in De Lassus, Missouri (now mostly annexed by Farmington, Missouri).3 His father was William Tell Lightfoot Freeman (1847-1927). According to his entry in “A History of Greene County, Missouri,” William Freeman was the grandson of John Freeman, who fought in the Revolutionary War with the Virginia Scouts4 as a scout for George Washington. Julius’s grandmother on his father’s side was Theresa Eldridge Freeman, a well-known author from St. Louis who was a direct descendant of Pocahontas.5 Julie’s mother was Emma Bourgeat Freeman (1847-1872), grandniece of Charles Auguste De Lassus, who was the last lieutenant governor of Upper Louisiana, at the time the territory transitioned from Spain to France to the United States. Emma died just a few years after Julius was born. His father remarried at some point to Josephine Stagg, and Julie had a half-sister, Mayme Freeman, born in 1880. The 1880 US Census identifies Julius, at age 10, living with his grandmother as boarders in St. Louis.
Freeman’s baseball career started in 1886, when he pitched for Fort Smith, Arkansas. In 1887, he pitched for Fort Smith again, as Fort Smith won the independent Southwestern League.6 That’s when he caught the attention of the St. Louis Browns, but for whatever reason he didn’t get a chance to start that game in 1887. Over the following winter, Freeman was signed by the Kansas City club in the new minor league Western Association. He was with them in spring training, but was released on May 3, 1888, without pitching in a regular season game.7 Instead Julie pitched with the independent club in Newton, Kansas. After returning to St. Louis in September, he worked out with the Browns, leading up to his only major league game on October 10, 1888.8
As was the case the season before, the Browns had already clinched the pennant, but in 1888 their pitching staff was hampered all season by injuries and absences. This time, Freeman got the start, in St. Louis against Louisville. He pitched well through three innings, as St. Louis took a 2-0 lead. But Louisville scored five runs in the next three innings and led, 5-4, going into the bottom of the seventh. Freeman got the first hitter out before Dude Esterbrook hit a ball back to Freeman, breaking his finger, and his day (and MLB career) was over.9 Freeman pitched 6 1/3 innings, striking out one, walking four and hitting one. He gave up seven hits and five runs (three earned). At the plate, he had one hit in three at-bats off Louisville’s number two starter, Guy Hecker.
St. Louis held an option on him for 1889, but after a spring training with mixed results, the Browns sold him in April to Milwaukee of the Western Association for $1,000.10 Freeman went 0-5 with Milwaukee before he was cut.11 Omaha, another Western Association club, gave him a trial late in the season, at which time the Omaha Daily Bee reported that he had a sore arm early in the summer. He pitched one game for Omaha, on September 21.12 Omaha lost, 7-6, but only three of the runs scored by Des Moines were earned.
By 1891, Freeman was in Seattle. In April he was mentioned in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer four straight days. On April 10, it was announced he would be pitching a few innings for Seattle’s in their upcoming Pacific Northwest League game. On April 11, it was reported that he had a sore arm and would not be pitching. On April 12, Freeman and Kid Camp were listed as the pitchers for Seattle. And then on April 13, it was reported that he had signed with the Bellingham Bay, Washington, club in the Puget Sound Amateur League. Freeman pitched for Bellingham Bay through at least mid-June, although he continued to battle a sore arm.13 In 1892, he played for Helena in the Montana State League.14 By July, Freeman was umpiring games in the league.15 By the end of that month he was released from that position as well.16 It is unlikely that Freeman played professional baseball after 1892, given his repeated arm problems.
At some point, Freeman returned to Missouri. In January 1897 he married Kathryn Tweedie (daughter of the founder of the Tweedie Footwear Corporation) in Jefferson City, Missouri. The next year they had a daughter, Gladys. They must have separated shortly afterwards, because the 1900 US Census places Julius Freeman, typesetter, living in St. Louis with his grandmother Theresa Freeman, who died in 1909 in St. Louis.17
In November 1905, Julius married Adele (Della) Salaman in Toledo, Ohio. By 1920, they were living in St. Louis. Articles in the St. Louis Star and Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on July 16, 1920, described how Julius Freeman, a printer, was taken to City Hospital after smashing a window in an empty storefront of the University Club Building on North Grand avenue with a hatchet.18 No explanation was given for the action.
Less than one year later, Julius Freeman died, on June 10, 1921. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, along with his father (who died at his desk working at the City Art Museum in Forest Park in 1927),19 stepmother and grandmother. His second wife Adele died in June 1975 in St. Louis.20
This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Norman Macht and checked for accuracy by SABR’s fact-checking team.
General references consulted for this biography include game reports from various newspapers from 1886-1892, as accessed through Newspapers.com and Geneology.com. US Census data was accessed through Geneology.com, and other family information was found at FindaGrave.com. Stats were reported from Baseball-Reference. The biography for Julius Freeman at FindaGrave.com, written by Connie Nisinger and John Fisher, provided valuable information for additional searches.
1 “A New Pitcher.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1887: 7.
2 “To-Day’s Game.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 9, 1887: 8.
3 Julius’ gravestone has a birth year of 1869, while his death certificate gives his birth date as November 7, 1868.
4 Biographical information on Julius Freeman’s father was found in “A National Register of the Society, Sons of the American Revolution, Volume 1” by Sons of the American Revolution, and “History of Greene County, Missouri,” by R.I. Holcombe, Editing Historian (1883), Chapter 32.
5 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 17, 1895: 30. The Eldridge name comes into the family tree in the fourth generation, from the marriage of great-great-grand-daughter Martha Bolling to Thomas Eldridge in the early 1700s. For a family tree, see https://pocahontas.morenus.org/images/tree150.gif.
6 The Southwestern League seems to have collapsed in late July or early August of 1887, but the Fort Smith Club continued to play until late August. “The Fort Smith’s Disband,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 21, 1887: 9.
7 “Pitcher Freeman Released.” Omaha Daily Bee, May 4, 1888: 2.
8 “Grand Stand Chat.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 13, 1888: 8.
9 “Louisvilles, 7: Browns, 4.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 11, 1888: 8.
10 “Personal,” Springfield (Missouri) Daily Leader, April 19, 1889: 4.
11 The Rise of Milwaukee Baseball, by Dennis Pajot (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2009), 155.
12 “Freeman to be Tried.” Omaha Daily Bee, September 21, 1889: 2.
13 “Tacoma Dodges Outclassed in the Amateur League,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 8, 1891: 3.
14 “The Baseball Season,” Helena (Montana) Independent-Record, May 5, 1892: 5.
15 “Gossip of Baseball,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 18, 1892: 3.
16 “Batters of the Ball,” Anaconda (Montana) Standard, July 20, 1892: 4.
17 “Southern Writer Dead.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 1, 1909: 1.
18 “Breaks $500 Window.” St. Louis Star and Times, July 16, 1920: 7. “Man Smashes Window with Hatchet.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 16, 1920: 3.
19 “Museum Information Clerk Dies at Desk,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 16, 1927: 81. According to the article, William Freeman died at 8:30 AM. The guard who replaced him at the information desk that morning suffered a heart attack and died while walking home that same afternoon.
20 A burial permit was issued for A. Freeman, age 91, in June 1975. “Vital Statistics,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 11, 1975: 24.