Steven Freer has held a Saugerties High School varsity sports record for more than three decades. His 1435 career points in varsity basketball only tell some of his sports story, though. Freer, a Class of 1985 Saugerties High alum, will enter the Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame next month.
Being enshrined alongside four other local legends as the Class of 2017 is important. “It meant a lot,” said Freer. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be inducted into this great [Saugerties] sports hall of fame. With me growing up in Saugerties and watching so many hall-of-famers and learning from them, it’s a great honor.”
Freer attended the former St. Mary of the Snow for elementary and middle school before moving on to Saugerties High. He was involved in sports all that time. “I was playing sports with my brothers and their friends since I was five or six years old,” Freer said. “Sports was a huge part of my life. And it still is today.”
Freer first signed on for organized sports with grasshoppers’ baseball when he was just eight years old. He stayed on the diamond for Little League from the ages of 9 to 12, played Babe Ruth from 13 to 15, and moved on to American Legion ball from ages 15 to 18.
A starting pitcher and outfielder, Freer played varsity baseball at Saugerties High from tenth through twelfth grade.
During his junior year with the Sawyers, the varsity baseball team lost in the state semifinals, setting up a triumphant return the following year when the program won it all. During that 1985 title run, Freer went 10-0 on the mound. Among numerous accolades, he was voted the New York State Class B MVP.
“It was very special to do it with the teammates I had,” Freer said. “Our parents were unbelievable. They were at every single one of our games. We didn’t like to lose, that was the bottom line. We knew we were good enough and if we played our A game, no one was going to beat us. And winning meant everything, especially in Saugerties. Saugerties is a baseball town.”
Freer also excelled on the basketball court, playing forward and center on the Sawyers’ varsity squad from ninth through twelfth grade.
“I liked them both,” Freer said. “If it was basketball season, that was my favorite sport. If it was baseball season, that was my favorite sport. I lived at Cantine. We played from sunup to sundown. We’d bring our lunch, all my friends, and we’d play at Cantine every single day. And then we’d play basketball at night. I grew up at Cantine and I grew up at Donlon Auditorium.”
It was baseball that earned Freer a scholarship to attend St. John’s University, where he earned a degree in athletic administration and was part of the Red Storm’s 1988 Big-East title push.
“Playing in big games in Saugerties, that definitely helped me at St. John’s,” Freer said.
A shoulder injury during his junior year derailed any hopes Freer might have had of playing baseball beyond college. “They didn’t have the surgeries they have now, and I was never the same pitcher,” he said.
While his playing days were over, Freer didn’t leave sports behind. A longtime coach, often with a focus on pitching, Freer has spent the past five years coaching in the Mid-Hudson Tigers travel baseball program. He’s also coaching modified baseball at Kingston High School and as a pitching coach will join the coaching staff of the Saugerties Stallions this summer.
It’s with the Tigers, both the travel team and at Kingston High, that Freer has worked with his son, Steven Jr. “He’s involved in the modified baseball and basketball programs (in Kingston),” Freer said of his son. “He’s following in my footsteps. It means a lot. I’m a lot more nervous watching my son play than when I was playing. It’s nerve-wracking. But he’s a very good athlete, and my father tells me he’s a better athlete than I was at his age.”
Freer also has a daughter, Courtney, and a granddaughter, Cecelia, born in October. His whole family, including his wife Kelly, are behind him as he prepares for the Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony in April.
“It’s been a great few months,” Freer, a supervisor with the City of Kingston Parks & Recreation Department, said. “They’re very happy for me. My wife is helping me write the speech and she’s just been tremendous. She lets me still be a kid, lets me coach and do the things I love to do. She’s there every step of the way.”
The annual Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner, planned for Saturday, April 8. The event will be held at Diamond Mills, with doors opening at 5 p.m., a cocktail and meet-and-greet hour from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and the ceremony beginning immediately after. Tickets, which include some drinks and dinner, are $30 and can be reserved by e-mailing Mike Hasenbalg (firstname.lastname@example.org).