Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman relishes chance to play at old stomping grounds, Angel Stadium

Freddie Freeman didn’t get a suite this time.

Until he actually takes the field at Angel Stadium on Friday night, in the ballpark where he grew up attending games as a kid, he didn’t want to jinx it.

“I’ve had multiple opportunities to play in Angel Stadium,” Freeman said this week. “And I have not been able to.”

Not since 2011, anyway, when Freeman played three games against the Angels in Anaheim during his rookie season with the Atlanta Braves.

In 2017, Freeman had secured an entire suite for his family members ahead of the Braves’ first trip back to Anaheim in six years — only to break his wrist two weeks before the series, forcing him to miss all three games.

This spring, after signing with the Dodgers, he was expecting close to a full section’s worth of family to come to the lone preseason Freeway Series game in Anaheim — only to get sick the day before and have to sit it out.

So, as he planned this weekend’s upcoming two-game series against the Angels, he opted to play it safe.

“I decided not to go suite route this time,” he laughed, “to see if it would get jinxed.”

It hasn’t. Not by a longshot.

Freeman enters this weekend’s series as one of the hottest hitters in baseball, coming off a four-game stretch in which he reached base safely in 16 of 18 plate appearances, drove in four runs while scoring five, and raised his batting average on the season to .320, fourth best in the majors.

“You usually don’t think you’re ever going to get into one of those [stretches], because it’s so hard to get into the zone when you face three, four pitchers a game,” Freeman said. “You just try to ride it as long as you can until it suddenly ends.”

Freeman is hoping it can last at least two more games.

“That magnitude, in front of your family in the place that you grew up going to games, I don’t think it gets much better than that.”

— Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman on playing at Angel Stadium

Growing up, Freeman became an Angels fan by default.

His parents were Canadian, bringing no big-league allegiance with them when they moved to Southern California.

He came of age at the height of the franchise’s glory years, having just turned 13 when the Angels won their lone World Series in 2002.

During that postseason run, Freeman and his dad received tickets to a suite from a family friend for an American League Division Series game against the New York Yankees.

Freeman idolized Angels stars of that generation, too.

Former Angels players gather at Angel Stadium to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 2002 World Series title.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Garret Anderson was his favorite player, a young Freeman drawing inspiration from the All-Star’s smooth left-handed swing.

While reflecting on his Angels fandom this week, Freeman rattled off a list of other players he looked up to, from Darin Erstad to David Eckstein, from Tim Salmon to Chone Figgins.

“They even had Brad Fullmer from the left side, hitting tanks,” Freeman recalled. “It was just fun to watch them.”

Freeman also has fond, albeit few, memories of playing at Angel Stadium.

During his high school years at Orange El Modena, his team once got to play at the ballpark.

Then came the 2011 visit with the Braves, a trip that stands as one of Freeman’s favorite big-league moments.

“That magnitude, in front of your family in the place that you grew up going to games, I don’t think it gets much better than that,” Freeman said.

Playing in front of family will be nothing new for Freeman, who has had his father, grandfather, aunts, uncles and other extended kin at home games this season since joining the Dodgers in the offseason.

Still, as he thought ahead this week to a long-awaited return to Angel Stadium, he couldn’t help but grin.

“When you get to play in the place you always went to as a kid,” he said, “it’s pretty special.”

File source

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button