“Give me a second, I don’t know if I can get through this”
Freddie Freeman returned to Atlanta for the first time since signing with the Dodgers Friday and met with the media. The press conference had a false start as Freeman entered the room, but then had to retreat to try and compose himself. For just over 15 minutes, a teary eyed Freeman explained what the Braves organization, the city and the fans meant to him.
“It’s hard to even look up at the people that I’ve been with for 15 years,” Freeman said as he fought back tears. “It’s really hard to put into words. I can’t even look up at you guys because I don’t know how to get through it. I was doing pretty good about an hour ago gosh. I don’t know all the emotions, it’s hard to put into words.
“I’m just happy to be back. This organization, the people, the media people who covered my family with grace and love over the last 12 years. It’s hard,” Freeman said. “The fans since I was 20 years old, the ones that saw me when I was 17 in the Gulf Coast League and Rome Georgia in 2008. Myrtle Beach and Pearl Mississippi in 2009 and Gwinnett. Everyone who helped me be who I am today. I love the Braves organization with all my heart. That will never change.”
Freeman will receive his World Series championship ring in a pregame ceremony in front of a sell out crowd at Truist Park. If he thought the press conference was emotional, stepping out on the field may be something else entirely. Freeman was asked what that World Series ring will mean to him and obviously, it will be more than just a ring.
“To me, that World Series ring is more than a ring,” Freeman said. “I think when you’re a kid, all you dream about is making it to the big leagues. It’s everyone’s dream. And then you get to the big leagues and then you just want to stay and then when you’re lucky and blessed enough to be able to stay, your whole mindset changes. And all you want to do is win because no kid thinks about a World Series, they just think about, I want to be in the big leagues. When you get here and you put on a Braves jersey. The only thing that matters is winning and we went through a lot of up and downs in my 12 years and we reached the pinnacle last year of winning it all.
It was impossible to watch Freeman forcing back tears through the entire press session without wondering, just how did we get here. If Freeman was this attached to the Braves and to this city, then how is he still not with this franchise. He wasn’t interested in getting into the details and he said that this weekend’s series won’t provide any closure because there is nothing to close.
“I have no regrets and I’m not looking for closure. There’s nothing to close for me here,” Freeman said. “Why would I close such a special time in 15 years that I spent here? There’s for me nothing to close?”
“I think that the regret question is a whole different side of the story that I’m not here to talk about because I think one on one, the people I’ve talked to, that’s a it’s a different side of it because if I got into that we’d be here a long time and that emotion might change,” he added.
“I think people that know me know a little bit about what happened a few months ago, so I’m just gonna leave it at that.”
If you are curious and looking for more details, then I suggest this article by MLB.com’s Mark Bowman from earlier in the week.
Freeman was asked if he could describe why the emotions were hitting him so hard. After all, he did see the Braves in Los Angeles in April.
“This is where I walked in every single day. Saw you guys every single day,” Freeman said. “I drove in today and saw 14 Freeman No. 5 jerseys. I’d never take that for granted because some of you know all of that what happened so it’s hard. I don’t know if there is going to be any compartmentilizing anything about tonight or even tomorrow or on Sunday because tomorrow’s crowd is going to be a whole different crowd. Sunday’s crowd is going to be a whole different crowd too. I don’t know, I was looking forward to today, but I’m hoping it’s Monday soon. This is a lot harder than I thought.
Update - Freeman received a standing ovation from the Truist Park crowd before receiving his World Series Championship ring.
"I know I've got a different uniform on, but I still love each and every one of you guys."— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) June 24, 2022
Freddie Freeman addresses the @Braves crowd after receiving his World Series ring in this on-field interview with @Kelly_Crull. pic.twitter.com/FwJKdr9in8
Freeman’s first plate appearance.
Freddie Freeman's first at-bat back in Atlanta is everything you'd expect it to be pic.twitter.com/RcfiOas276— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) June 24, 2022