Freddie Freeman mightiness person played his last crippled for Atlanta connected Tuesday. Even if helium did, helium has already delivered connected a committedness helium made to grant his mother.
Nov. 3, 2021Updated 6:20 a.m. ET
HOUSTON — The friendliest antheral successful shot is simply a champion. Freddie Freeman, the Atlanta Braves’ slugger known for smiles, small talk and soft-serve crystal cream, deed the past location tally of the play and caught the propulsion from shortstop for the last retired of the World Series. Nice guys decorativeness first.
This is the beingness Freeman wanted — the shot career, yes, but besides the estimation helium has earned on the way. He owed that overmuch to his mother, Rosemary, who died of melanoma successful 2000.
“He felt like, to grant his mom, helium had to beryllium a large kid,” his father, Fred Freeman, said connected the Minute Maid Park infield precocious Tuesday night, aft the Braves finished disconnected the Houston Astros, 7-0, successful Game 6. “That was it. When helium was 10, that’s what helium decided helium was going to be. He ever said, ‘I cognize mom’s watching.’”
The extortion was unfastened connected a lukewarm nighttime present Tuesday, cleanable viewing for Hank Aaron, Phil Niekro, Rosemary Freeman and truthful galore more. Maybe you judge successful that imagery, possibly you don’t. But the psyche of the Braves does, and for now, helium is the 1 atop the shot world.
“Believe me, I privation I was capable to hug my ma connected that field,” Freeman said. “But I cognize she’s up with my grandma close now, jumping up and down.”
Freeman said his wife, Chelsea, texted him 2 hours earlier Game 6 to archer him his parent would beryllium arrogant of him. It was not a connection Freeman thought helium needed then, helium said, due to the fact that it made him affectional earlier the biggest crippled of his life.
But it was appropriate, helium added, and it worked. It was comforting, said Freddie’s older brother, Andrew, to deliberation of however their parent would person celebrated.
“She’d beryllium the archetypal 1 connected that field, moving retired to bearhug him close now,” Andrew said. “She did everything for us. She didn’t cognize baseball, truthful she bought ‘Baseball For Dummies’ to cognize however to bash this thing. She would ever deterioration our buttons — she was the ‘Button Mom’ successful Little League — and to deliberation that if she was present today, ohio my gosh. It would beryllium perfectly amazing.”
Rosemary mightiness person known that her lad was bound for stardom. In tee shot astatine property 6, Freddie deed the shot truthful hard that helium was deemed excessively unsafe for that part of the North Sunrise Little League successful Orange, Calif. He practiced with the 12-year-olds instead.
At property 7, Freeman played with the 9-year-olds. At 9, helium played with the 12-year-olds. As a elder astatine El Modena High School, helium was chosen by the Braves successful the 2nd circular of the 2007 draft. Fred had to motion the declaration — for a $409,500 bonus — due to the fact that Freddie was lone 17, and erstwhile Freddie grew homesick successful the Gulf Coast League, Fred flew to Orlando for 2 weeks of ballgames connected backmost fields and dinners astatine Applebee’s.
A signifier was established: Freeman would struggle, telephone dada and find his way.
“Even successful Triple-A, erstwhile helium was 20, he’d telephone maine aft 2 weeks and helium was batting nether .100,” Fred Freeman said. “He said, ‘Dad, I made a mistake, I request to travel home, I’m not bully enough.’
“So I flew retired to Charlotte, due to the fact that they were playing there, and I watched 1 crippled and helium struck retired 4 times. And I said, ‘Freddie, you’re truthful excited, determination wasn’t 1 onslaught that you swung at.’ He said, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Freddie, they’re bouncing up there. Tomorrow, don’t swing. You can’t bash immoderate worse.’ So helium walked the archetypal 2 times connected 8 pitches, and past the 3rd clip up helium deed 1 disconnected the halfway tract obstruction connected the archetypal pitch.”
Freeman was successful the majors by the extremity of that 2010 season, playing for a Hall of Fame manager, Bobby Cox, and hitting his archetypal location tally disconnected a Hall of Fame pitcher, Roy Halladay. In 11 afloat seasons successful the majors, Freeman has ne'er had a down year.
“I don’t cognize what I’d bash without him, rather honestly,” said Braves Manager Brian Snitker. “He’s my rock. I spell to him with things. I’ve been with him since the archetypal time helium came present successful the large leagues. He’s everything that the Braves basal for.”
The shot from the last retired — thrown by Will Smith, deed by Yuli Gurriel, fielded by Dansby Swanson, caught by Freeman — belongs to Snitker, Freeman said. It was a emblematic motion from Freeman, who besides turned down General Manager Alex Anthopoulos’s connection to bargain him an ice-cream instrumentality for his location arsenic a acquisition for winning the division.
That decision, Freeman conceded, had much to bash with upkeep than humility. But helium feels a beardown enslaved to the Braves, who rebuilt astir him portion trading prima teammates similar Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Andrelton Simmons and Justin Upton. The squad endured 4 losing seasons successful a enactment during Freeman’s prime, and helium ne'er complained.
“They didn’t truly beryllium maine anything,” helium said. “I owed everything to them due to the fact that they gave maine the accidental to unrecorded retired a puerility dream. So successful my mind, I wanted to bash everything I perchance could to assistance get this squad backmost to winning, due to the fact that I came up erstwhile we were winning.”
This was Freeman’s sixth travel to the postseason, and the astir unlikely. The Braves had the fewest victories (88) of immoderate squad successful the playoff field, and did not nudge their grounds supra .500 for bully until Aug. 8.
In a doubleheader expanse by the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks successful April, Atlanta managed 1 deed successful the archetypal crippled (by Freeman) and nary successful the 2nd against Madison Bumgarner. Freeman finished that crippled with a .205 average.
“After that game, I was sitting determination with him going, ‘My gosh, this could beryllium a precise agelong year,’” Andrew Freeman said. “And you cognize what? He’s like, ‘We’re a bully team.’ He believed it. He believed this was a bully team. He believed they had what it took to triumph a championship.”
A barrage of injuries, astir importantly to outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., could person challenged that belief. But, then, it is hard to pierce Freeman’s aura of positivity.
“Freddie was a believer each the way,” said Terry McGuirk, the Braves’ chairman. “Freddie’s ne'er had a time wherever helium took disconnected and didn’t play hard. That’s the constitution that enabled this squad to physique astir him and make what we person today.”
McGuirk added: “You don’t get present without the seasoned leaders, and he’s the person of the veterans.”
The extremity of the World Series besides brought an extremity to Freeman’s eight-year, $135 cardinal contract. He won the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award successful 2020, thrived successful this postseason (a .304 mean with 5 homers and a 1.045 on-base positive slugging percentage) and volition bid a affluent declaration successful escaped agency.
Freeman has been unfastened astir his wishes — “I deliberation everyone successful this country knows I privation to enactment here,” helium said successful a quality league during the World Series — and portion McGuirk was coy astir the aboriginal aft Game 6, helium did say, “Hey, I emotion him.”
McGuirk besides said Freeman deserves a spot successful the Hall of Fame, and he’s astir apt right. According to Baseball Reference, the astir akin subordinate to Freeman astatine each age, from 21 done 31, is Eddie Murray, a first-ballot inductee to Cooperstown.
If Freeman gets there, the 2021 title volition beryllium etched connected his plaque. It is the fulfillment of a privation Freeman shared astatine his locker successful Atlanta 1 time successful 2017, different mislaid season, erstwhile a nighttime similar Tuesday seemed arsenic distant arsenic a prima supra the Texas sky.
“Everybody talks astir legacies and each that,” Freeman said then. “What’s a bequest without a championship? What’s the constituent of that? I privation to win, and that’s each I attraction about.”