Players returning to their former teams is nothing new in the big leagues.
But few examples were as eagerly awaited, unabashedly appreciated, or emotionally raw as what Freeman attended last weekend, with everything from a World Series ring ceremony on Friday to a long ovation (and the occasional boo ) in front of his bats.
“I’m emotionally drained,” Freeman said afterwards.
The proceedings were not lost for his new teammates either.
After Friday’s game, Trea Turner noted the extraordinary nature of the scene as Freeman fought back tears during a speech at the stadium.
“Moments like this are special,” Turner said. “You don’t always see moments like this. We love Freddie here. We want to have his back and be there for him in such situations.”
Chris Taylor echoed similar sentiments.
“It was good to see the crowd welcoming him with open arms,” Taylor said. “He has done so much for this organization. So it’s good to see that they appreciate his work.”
There was speculation as to how the reception was viewed by the Dodgers’ clubhouse.
Clayton Kershaw told the Atlanta Journal Constitution the ceremony was a “very cool” moment for Freeman, but added, “He’s obviously made a huge contribution to our team. And I hope we’re not second fiddle. Here, too, it is a very special team. I think whenever he makes himself comfortable here, he’ll really enjoy it.”
Kershaw declined to elaborate, only reiterating that Freeman’s reception was “very classy.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was also asked how Freeman’s homecoming had been received by his new team.
“I think I can speak for most of our players – and hopefully all – this is a special moment for him and his family,” Roberts said. “Appreciating what a player means, what your teammate means to a particular city, that’s a good thing. I thought the Braves did a great job. I thought Freddie’s feelings were honest.”
When asked if Freeman’s homecoming had become a distraction for the team, Roberts was emphatic.
“Absolutely not,” he said.
Instead, Roberts congratulated the first baseman after his four-for-12 performance in the series.
“That’s probably as much as he’s ever been emotionally tested, I think,” Roberts said. “And he passed with flying colors.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-06-27/dodgers-takeaways-freddie-freeman-atlanta-braves Dodgers takeaways: Freddie Freeman looking forward after emotional return to Atlanta