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"Orioles Major League Baseball Slugger (Ryan Freel) Chooses Gospel Rapper's (Easop) Song titled: "Out Tha Box", as At-Bat Theme Song for 2009 Season"

INN. Atlanta/Los Angeles.  February 2, 2009.

With Spring Training just around the corner, Major League Slugger and Baltimore Orioles Player Ryan Freel announced today that he will be using Los Angeles-based Gospel Rapper's (Easop) song titled: "Out Tha Box", as his personal theme music for at-bats during the 2009 baseball season.Commenting Freel, "Honestly, I had never heard of Christians rapping before.

But, when I checked out the website 24Gospel over the Christmas Holidays and stumbled upon the video from Easop for his song "Out Tha Box" and began listening closely to what this guy was saying in his raps, I was floored that a guy in the video who did not even look like someone you would ever expect to see in a Church was actually Preaching with his raps and is actually a Pastor in Los Angeles.  That was 3 weeks ago and now, the only music that me, my wife and 2 daughters have listened to in my car is Holy Hip Hop and we absolutely love it.  So, I began to think of how I could give back to this guy and it hit me that if a guy could come to plate with Ludacris, then why can't a guy to come to the plate with Easop which resulted in me doing what my heart told me to do and that is to bring Easop to the plate with me (as my personal at-bat theme song) for all fans to experience in ballparks nationwide where I am fortunate to be able to play in 2009 and beyond.

What Easop and others like him are doing is making life-impacting, cool music and the quality is as good or better than what is on the radio today and it would be interesting to see what would happen if more Professional Baseball, Basketball and Football players embraced this music in locker rooms and stadiums nationwide.  But most importantly, it is safe for my daughters, especially in the times the world is in today.  I am coming back from an injury suffered during the 2008 baseball season (and feeling good and strong now), and if there are any Holy Hip Hop Headz out there, who hear about this news and who want to drop me a line, send a prayer or a shout out, feel free to reach me online at: RyanFreelBaseball@yahoo.com."

Watch Easop: Out Tha Box Video on:24Gospel, Click here: Easop: Out Tha Box  (Note: There is a slight delay before video plays, as this Video is formatted for TV Broadcast, so please be patient to view (click on link above or on play button below if visible); or go to: www.24Gospel.com (and search "Easop").

Ryan Freel dies at age 36

MIAMI -- Ryan Freel, a former Major League Baseball player known for his fearless play but whose career was cut short after eight seasons by a series of head and other injuries, was found dead Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla., according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Freel, who was 36, died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted shotgun wound, sheriff's office spokesman Shannon Hartley wrote in an email Sunday. The medical examiner will make the final determination of the cause of death. "RIP Ryan Freel!! Great teammate, great guy,n loved his family!" former Cincinnati Reds teammate Sean Casey tweeted. "Such a sad day today with his passing!Awful news!Prayers are with his family!"

The speedy Freel spent six of his eight big league seasons with the Reds and finished his career in 2009 with a .268 average and 143 steals."Really hurt by his passing!" Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said on Twitter. "You'll never will be forgotten." Freel drew attention in 2006 when he was quoted by the Dayton Daily News as saying he had an imaginary friend, Farney. "He's a little guy who lives in my head who talks to me and I talk to him," Freel was quoted as saying. "Everybody thinks I talk to myself, so I tell 'em I'm talking to Farney." The Jacksonville native thrilled fans with his all-out style, yet it took a toll on his career. During his playing days, he once estimated he had sustained up to 10 concussions. Freel missed 30 games in 2007 after a collision with a teammate caused a concussion.

Freel showed no fear as he ran into walls, hurtled into the seats and crashed into other players trying to make catches. His jarring, diving grabs often made the highlight reels, and he was praised by those he played with and against for always having a dirt-stained uniform. Selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 10th round of the 1995 amateur draft out of Tallahassee Community College, Freel made his big league debut in April 2001 with the Blue Jays after second baseman Homer Bush injured a thumb. Freel appeared in just nine major league games that season, became a free agent and spent all of 2002 at Tampa Bay's Triple-A farm team. He signed a minor league deal with the Reds that November and made it back to the majors the following April.

He stayed with the Reds through 2008, when a torn tendon in his right hamstring caused him to miss the final 103 games of the season. He was traded to Baltimore at that December's winter meetings and split the 2009 season among the Orioles, Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals."The Reds family is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Ryan Freel," the Cincinnati Reds said in a statement. "His teammates and our fans loved him for how hard he played the game, and he loved giving back to the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Freel had consecutive seasons of 37, 36 and 37 steals from 2004-06 but started to slow the following year. After hitting .271 with eight homers and 27 RBIs in 2006, he gained a $2,325,000 salary for the following year and then in April 2007 signed a $7 million, two-year deal covering 2008 and '09. He was in center field when he collided with right fielder Norris Hopper's elbow on May 28, 2007, an injury that caused Freel to be taken off the field in an ambulance. Freel sustained a concussion that caused headaches and an impaired memory, and he didn't return until early July. He then suffered a season-ending knee surgery in August."I think what happened last year has taken a toll on this year," he said at spring training the following year. "Obviously there's question marks. Obviously there's people questioning or doubting or whatever it may be."

He sustained another head injury that put him back on the DL when he was hit by a pickoff throw to second base from Boston pitcher Justin Masterson during the Patriots Day game at Fenway Park on April 20, 2009. Freel appeared dazed as he walked off, both arms extended over the shoulders of Baltimore's trainers. Disappointed about conditions surrounding a stress test he was forced to take before beginning a minor league rehabilitation assignment -- he insisted he felt fine -- Freel was traded to the Cubs on May 8 only to be dealt to Kansas City on July 6. The Royals cut him a month later, and he signed a minor league deal with Texas. The following year, he played in nine games for the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.


Jacksonville.com reported he was hired as baseball coach at the St. Joseph Academy on June 28 this year and then "backed away" from that position. Freel also had trouble related to alcohol. He was arrested in northern Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, in April 2005 and was charged with drunken driving, careless driving and driving with an open container in a motor vehicle. A month later, he pleaded guilty. The following January, he was arrested at a pool hall in Tampa, Fla., and charged with disorderly intoxication, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors settled the case by having Freel do community service.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press