Christie Moore Freel lost count of the nights her husband, Ryan, arrived home from the ballpark with a tale that added to her growing concern over his health.
"I don't know how many times he would talk about sliding into second or third base and blacking out or seeing stars," she said.
While his peers and fans praised Freel's headfirst approach throughout an eight-year career in the major leagues, which he deemed necessary to compensate for being undersize and less talented, the person closest to him became tormented by it.
"I cringed that that's who he was — all-out, full throttle," she said. "It was very hard to watch."
Still, she was surprised to learn that Freel, 36, was found dead in his Jacksonville residence on Dec. 22. Authorities concluded that the cause was a self-inflicted shotgun wound.
"I know a lot of people say they weren't shocked by it, but I really was," said Freel, who had been divorced from Ryan Freel since April after 11 years of marriage, and had spoken to him briefly on the eve of his death.
"I really thought, at some point, the answer to all of this would come along for him. It just never did."