The World Baseball Classic is back for the first time since 2017, and once again Los Angeles Dodgers star first baseman Freddie Freeman has accepted the invitation to suit up to represent his roots against 19 other nations in the two-week event held in Taiwan, Japan and the United States.
Having participated in the 2017 running of the international event, the 33-year-old has chosen to once again honour his heritage by wearing the red and white and playing for Canada, despite officially being born in California in September of 1989.
Freeman‘s explanation for choosing to represent Canada on one of the grandest stages is absolutely soul-stirring.
“So, I play for Team Canada for a very heartfelt reason for me and my family,” Freeman said in a video interview conducted by the Dodgers. “My dad was born in Windsor, Ontario…Canada… and my mom was born in Toronto, just outside of Toronto in a please called Peterborough, also in Canada.
“So most people don’t know this, but my mom passed away when I was 10 years old, of melanoma skin cancer,” he added. “That’s why I played for Team Canada. I don’t know if this is what she would have wanted me to do. But in my heart, it’s what I felt I should do. That’s the reason I play, it’s to honour my mom.”
Having suited up six years ago in the most recent rendition, Freeman once again opted to don his parents’ colours, supporting a nation not as commonly known for its baseball talent. But to the 13-year pro, putting on the Canadian sweater always brings about a special feeling.
“When my parents got married in Oshawa, my dad was already in California establishing his job there, and they ended up moving there, so that’s how I was born and raised in Southern California,” he said. “But when I heard the Canadian national anthem yesterday before the game, I got some tears in my eyes. It just means a lot. You’ve got a lot of people that are fans of baseball but are also fans of where they’re from and they’re passionate about it. My first game was against the Dominican Republic in 2017, there was 30,000 people in Miami banging bells and all that stuff. It’s a great atmosphere, it’s a great experience. You’ve seen what’s been going on in Miami and Japan, Taiwan and here in Arizona. It’s just so fun. The energy they’ve been bringing, the fans, it’s making this competition so much fun to be a part of.”
Around Full Press Coverage
NFL OPINION: Morten Andersen: The Toughest Place To Kick? For Me, It Was This Place
NFL: Joe Klecko: How Fate Changed My Life … And Sent Me To Canton
Ep 114: Aaron Rodgers, OBJ, and The New York Jets
by Full Press Coverage on March 25, 2023 at 12:09 am
NFL: 2023 AFC West Free Agency Preview
NFL DRAFT: 2023 NFL Draft Profile: QB C.J. Stroud
FULL PRESS HOCKEY: After Trade Deadline, Leafs’ Major Experiments Will Happen on Defense
PODCAST: According To Who? Ep 2: Top 5 Super Bowls Of All Time
Although currently on Los Angeles’ roster, Freeman spent the previous 12 years with the Atlanta Braves. Having really only played 80 home games for the Dodgers last season, he did provide some clarity into his game-day routines and at bat rituals for those who have asked him questions.
“Most Dodger fans probably don’t know, but there is as lot of things that go into each game that I do for remembering my mom,” Freeman said. “I wear sleeves every game. That is for my mom, because she passed away from skin cancer. So every time I put on my tight sleeves, it makes me think of her. I also put on a cross around my neck that unscrews and has her hair inside of it. So, Dodger fans, when you get to know me, pretty much everything I do is for my mom. This is what I feel is right.”
Having last spoke to his mother 23 years ago, Freeman does continue to honour her with his on-field actions, both with the Dodgers and Team Canada at international events. His season last year in L.A. was one of the best of his career, as he set career-highs in plate appearances (708), hits (199), doubles (47), stolen bases (13), batting average (.325), while striking out a career-low 102 times.
“I know a lot of people don’t understand. I was born in California, I know I was, yes, I was. But in my heart, honouring my mother and playing for team Canada, and for me is the right decision,” he said. “I think, even if I hit .000 every single season, she’d still be proud of me. You know, it’s hard to even think about it. It’s really getting me emotional, but I just hope she’s proud of me. 23 years and it never goes away.
“That’s all I want; I hope she’s smiling down.”
Canada won its first game of the tournament 18-8 over Great Britain on Sunday, before losing 12-1 to the star-studded American squad on Monday. Freeman and Co. turned their fortunes against Colombia (1-1) on Tuesday afternoon, earning a 5-0 shutout in a strong performance. Canada closes out the round robin against Mexico on Wednesday.
Leave a Reply