Players returning to play their former teams is nothing new in the major leagues.
But there have been few examples as highly anticipated, unabashedly commemorated or emotionally raw as what Freeman took part in last weekend, featuring everything from a World Series ring ceremony Friday to long ovations (and occasional boos) before his at-bats.
“I’m emotionally drained,” Freeman said afterward.
The proceedings weren’t lost on his new teammates, either.
After Friday’s game, Trea Turner noted the extraordinary nature of the scene, when Freeman fought back tears during a stadium address.
“Moments like this are special,” Turner said. “You don’t really see moments like this all the time. We love Freddie here. We want to have his back and be out there for him in situations like that.”
Chris Taylor echoed similar sentiments.
“The crowd welcoming him with open arms, seeing that was good to see,” Taylor said. “He’s done so much for this organization. So it’s good to see them appreciate what he’s done.”
There was speculation as to how the reception was being viewed by the Dodgers clubhouse.
Clayton Kershaw told the Atlanta Journal Constitution the ceremony for Freeman was a “very cool” moment but added: “He’s obviously been a big contributor for our team. And I hope we’re not second fiddle. It’s a pretty special team over here, too. I think whenever he gets comfortable over here, he’ll really enjoy it.”
Kershaw declined to elaborate, reiterating only that Freeman’s reception had been “very classy.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was also asked about how Freeman’s homecoming had been received by his new team.
“I think I can speak for most of our players — and hopefully all of them — that’s a special moment for him and his family,” Roberts said. “To appreciate what a player means, your teammate means to a certain city, that’s a good thing. I thought the Braves did a great job. I thought Freddie’s emotion was honest.”
Asked whether Freeman’s homecoming had become a distraction for the team, Roberts answered emphatically.
“Absolutely not,” he said.
Instead, Roberts complimented the first baseman following his four-for-12 performance in the series.
“This is probably as much as he’s ever been tested, I think, emotionally,” Roberts said. “And he passed with flying colors.”