This box score (and much of the rest of 1917) appeared this way in several microfilm readers I tried, so it wasn’t the reader. Maybe the original newsprint was smeared in places. But as I recall (I read this paper several months ago), the microfilm gave the distinct impression of simply having been filmed out of focus—another case of microfilm malpractice. The quality through 1917 varied—much of it, while not great, is readable, or at least better than the above—but as the reel moved into 1918, it became less and less legible, until I finally gave up.
I’m also reasonably certain that there are multiple versions of these years floating around out there (and it could also be that the original paper copies exist somewhere). If anybody has seen better, legible versions of the 1917 and/or 1918 Freeman, I’d love to hear from you.
Incidentally, Google News Archive has a good run of the Freeman (from 1888 to 1915, it appears).