The Hon. C.L. WINGARD: It was with great sadness that we learned that talented South
Australian sportsman Eric Freeman recently passed away on Monday 14 December after a heart
attack. Eric will forever be remembered as one of the greatest athletes South Australia has ever
Affectionately known as Fritzy, Eric Freeman was born in Semaphore, Adelaide, and
excelled at both cricket and football. As a cricketer, Freeman was presented with baggy green cap
No. 244 when he toured with Australian teams to New Zealand in 1966-67, England in 1968 and
India and South Africa in 1969-70.
A fast medium bowler and swashbuckling batsman, he took 34 test wickets at an average of
33.17 and made 345 runs at 19. Always a crowd favourite, Freeman was the first batsman in test
history to get off the mark in his test career by scoring a six. Freeman was also a dominant first-class
player, playing for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield and playing 83 first-class matches. Eric
finished with 241 wickets at 27.75 and 2,244 runs at 19.17 for South Australia, with one century.
His career-best first-class figures of 8-47 were achieved against the touring New Zealanders
at Adelaide Oval in 1967. However, Eric's finest moment came in the final Sheffield Shield match in
1971 against New South Wales. Battling injuries to his knee and hamstring, Eric finished with
5-41 and 8-64, which ultimately clinched the Sheffield Shield for South Australia that year.
An elite athlete, Eric also played Australian Rules football, playing 116 games for
Port Adelaide in the SANFL, kicking 390 goals. In his eight years with the Magpies, Eric played in
six SANFL grand finals but could only manage just one senior flag in 1965. Eric won numerous
individual awards as well in the SANFL, winning the Ken Farmer Medal in 1966, and was leading
goalkicker for Port five times: in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1970 and 1971.
Following his retirement, Eric remained a popular member of the cricket family, and he
continued, of course, with commentary roles on the ABC and junior development positions with
West Torrens. I did get to know Eric as a commentator, as I am sure the member for Mawson did.
With such a stellar sporting resume on and off the field it was no wonder Eric received the Medal of
the Order of Australia in 2002 for services to sport, particularly cricket as a player, administrator and
commentator. Eric also liked to have fun with his teammates and was considered something of a
larrikin. Eric got the nickname 'Fritzy' due to his love of the sandwich meat served up at lunchtime
cricket breaks, Eric going as far as pinching the fritz out of all the sandwiches during the breaks.
While his achievements are elite, it was the intangibles that Eric had that made him a special
teammate. Tributes poured in for Eric following his passing, referring to him as a great player, a great
team man who always put the team first. While he was a wonderful competitor, he always played
with a sense of fun and a great sense of humour. When I think of Eric, as many have said, three
words come to mind: humility, fairness and brilliance.
Eric Freeman accomplished much on the sporting field, but his personal life had moments of
deep sadness. Eric's son David died prematurely, as did his grandson Matthew a few years later. I
pass on my heartfelt condolences to Eric's wife, Diane; daughter, Michelle, and the entire Freeman
family during this time.
Vale, Eric Freeman.