Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman emotional as he returns to Atlanta; ‘I’m just happy to be back’
It was always going to be an emotional return to Trust Park for the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman. He spent 15 years in the Braves’ organization, going from highly touted prospect to NL MVP and World Series champion.
Freeman left Atlanta for Los Angeles last winter, but his heart still lies with the Braves. In a press conference Friday before a weekend series in Atlanta, Freeman was tearful as he discussed his spell with them.
“I’ve always told you guys how much I love the Braves and this city,” Freeman told reporters. “I don’t even know how I’m going to get through this weekend, to be honest.”
Freeman ended his Braves career on top, hoisting the World Series trophy last fall. In the offseason, Freeman wanted a six-year deal to stay, something Atlanta wasn’t willing to grant a 32-year old, even one as talented as Freeman. Los Angeles agreed to Freeman’s request and he ended up in Dodger blue.
Atlanta took a big step to ensure Freeman’s loss wouldn’t put too big of a hole in the lineup, bringing in Matt Olson in a trade with the Athletics prior to the start of the 2022 season and signing him to an eight-year extension.
Those moves have been fairly beneficial for both parties so far. Freeman is still one of the top left-handed bats in the league. He entered Friday with eight homers, 45 RBIs and a .303/.386/.494 slash line in 68 games for the NL West-leading Dodgers. Olson hasn’t been quite as good as he was in 2021, but the 28-year-old still has a 119 OPS+ and has played in every game for the 41-30 Braves.
Freeman couldn’t help but reminisce about his time in Atlanta when he was at the podium. The five-time All-Star didn’t expect to break down an hour before his press conference, but he couldn’t help but get emotional as he returned to his old stomping grounds.
An emotional Freddie Freeman addresses the media in Atlanta ahead of his first game back pic.twitter.com/HHJxN4pj4A
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) June 24, 2022
Freeman couldn’t even get to the microphone without shedding a few tears.
Freddie Freeman just walked in, took one look at the podium and said “give me a minute” he is now out of the room. We are waiting for him to come back in. Very emotional day here at Truist. #ForTheA pic.twitter.com/68YLWeOY8l
— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) June 24, 2022
Freeman later walked to a gaggle of young Braves fans after batting practice to sign some baseballs. The youngsters adorned Freeman with chants of “Freddie, Freddie,” further adding to the emotion.
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) June 24, 2022
The Braves returned the favor to Freeman, posting a heart-warming video of Freeman’s best moments with the organization prior to Friday night’s game. They showed the video on the big screen at Truist Park, sending the Braves’ faithful into raptures.
1,565 games. 1,704 hits. 271 home runs. 5 All-Star appearances. 3 Silver Sluggers. 1 Hank Aaron Award. 1 MVP. 1 World Series title.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 24, 2022
Standing ovation for former Brave Freddie Freeman in his first ever game in Atlanta as a member of the Dodgers pic.twitter.com/YymYhfEmVt
— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) June 24, 2022
Freeman received his World Series ring on Friday. He mentioned how he couldn’t wait to get his hands on the memento in Friday’s pregame presser, saying it was “more than a ring.” Freeman teared up once more after receiving his new piece of jewelry.
Freddie Freeman is introduced in Atlanta for the first time as a Dodger and gets his World Series ring.
Anddd we’re all crying.
— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) June 24, 2022
Freeman took the plate to a chorus of cheers, receiving yet another standing ovation. And although there were a few boos, according to some in the stadium, it was a largely jovial atmosphere for the longtime Brave.
Freddie Freeman received a standing ovation in his return to Atlanta.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 24, 2022
When Freeman finally took the plate, those cheers turned to playful boos. Just as it’s supposed to be! Nonetheless, in typical Freeman manner, he drew a walk. Some things never change, I guess.