No other major league slugger combines a reputation for driving in big runs and giving great hugs like Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves. The convivial slugger, who is of Canadian descent and resembles a key supporting player from the movie "Home Alone," likes him some RBIs and some PDA with teammates after a home run.
Also spokesperson for ACE Brand, Freeman is getting the word out about their partnership with Little League so that kids and fans can make their own digital baseball cards. Freeman recently took a few minutes to do an Answer Man session that contained all of these topics and more, including what it's like to have your life saved in an Atlanta snow storm by Chipper Jones.
David Brown: You do the splits a lot to make saving plays at first base. Are you OK down there?
Freddie Freeman: Ha! I’m all right, I’m all right. I do a lot of stretching, but a couple of times, I’ve gone a little too far and it doesn’t feel too good. I’ll do anything to get that out and if I have to stretch as far as I can, I’ll do it. Sometimes it is pretty hilarious to hear the crowd give their “Oohs!” and “Ahhs!” when I do the splits. But it’s all good. I’m still alive down there [laughs].
DB: How close were you to frostbite, or even a Donner Party scenario, when Chipper Jones rescued you in the snow with his ATV last winter?
FF: Oh my gosh. That was an experience. I was in my car for, I think, 22 hours, just trying to get home. We kind of live next door to each other and I got about 6 1/2 miles from our houses and I found that I couldn’t just take it anymore. You just couldn’t move; the traffic was so bad. I just pulled off into a parking lot and I just called him and I went, “Chip, I’m not going anywhere, I just can’t move.” And he was, like, “Don’t you worry, I’ll come get you.”
Next thing you know, about 30 minutes later, he was whipping around in a four-wheeler, and he came and picked me up. That was probably the coldest I’ve ever been, sitting on the back of that four-wheeler getting to his house. I sat in front of the fire for at least 20 minutes trying to thaw out because I was so cold.
DB: What about a two-man bobsled with you and Chipper at the next Olympics?
FF: Oh, man! It would be… a sight to see for us to fit in one of those. But maybe we can make it happen one day. We’ll take a picture and send it out to you guys.
DB: Was holding onto Chipper on the longest you ever hugged someone?
FF: I was holding onto him for dear life the whole way. He’d tell you this, too — he could feel my teeth chattering in his back, I was so cold.
DB: Which famous people would you like to hug if given a chance?
FF: Anybody on our team who just hit a home run, of course, or after we win the game. Who wouldn’t want to hug the President of the United States? Big Barack, I should just give him a hug, if they’d let me get close.
DB: How neat would it have been for you to have a baseball card when you were a Little Leaguer, like they're doing now with ACE?
FF: It’s pretty cool, because most kids do collect baseball cards of their favorite big leaguers. I definitely did that as a kid and now Ace is giving kids an opportunity to create their own. It’s definitely something that I would have done as a kid. It's easy for fans to go to My ACE All Stars and get started.
DB: What players did you like to get when you opened a pack of cards as a kid?
FF: I grew up an Angels fan and my favorite card to collect was Chili Davis. I always got really, really excited when I got Chili Davis. I’ve never gotten a chance to meet him. I’d be honored no matter how old I was.
DB: If you made your own baseball card, which stats of yours should be on there?
FF: I’m a big RBI guy. I like the RBIs and the on-base percentage. That’s what I look for when I see other players’ cards, to see how they’re doing. I look and see if they’re driving other guys in and getting on base.
DB: Do you wear No. 5 because of hip hop pioneer Fab Five Freddy?
FF: Haha. I don’t wear it for that. I wear No. 5 because, when I was in Little League, from 9 years old to 12 years old, I was No. 5 on the Angels team I played for. And when I was 10, my mother passed away. It’s kind of a thing for her, because that was the last number she saw me playing in. But Fab Five Freddy is another guy I’d be honored to meet!
DB: What do you think about how Fredi Gonzalez spells his first name?
FF: It’s different. Mine’s a little different, too. Most people seem to spell theirs with a “Y” at the end. Last year, we had Freddy Garcia, so we had three different Freddies that spelled their name in completely different ways. It was pretty hilarious.
I like it that Fredi’s a little different. He’s a great, great manager too; he understands players. He just lets us go out there and play the game no matter how our names are spelled. But seriously, he was molded by Bobby Cox, one of the greatest managers of all time, because he was here for a time as his third-base coach. He’s a lot of fun to play for.
DB: Do you think you look like Buzz McCallister from Home Alone?
FF: Haha — I’ve heard that a few times. I don’t know if that’s a compliment though!
DB: Do you have a pet tarantula like him, or are you like Buzz in any other way? You seem nicer.
FF: No pet tarantula. I’ve got a cat, though.
DB: Where can we find more video of you dancing on the internet?
FF: I’m hoping that there’s something out there for the people. That video was at Dan Uggla’s wedding and we had a lot of fun. It’s pretty tame and harmless, but some people can see a little bit of my dance moves in there. Maybe there’ll be another opportunity to show off the dance moves in the future; we’ll see [laughs].
DB: Were you wearing Chuck Taylor shoes on the dance floor?
FF: Yeah, Dan bought a pair of Chucks for all of his groomsmen for the reception, so we changed into them after the ceremony so we had good dancin’ shoes for the reception.
DB: You’re reportedly a secret Canadian. What has to happen for you to play baseball for Canada in the next World Baseball Classic.
FF: My parents are from Canada. My mom was born in Toronto, my dad was born in Windsor. I think it would be cool, no longer having my mother, it would be a nice tribute to play for Team Canada. My Canadian cousins would get a kick out of it, too.
DB: When Craig Kimbrel throws the ball really hard to first, does it hurt?
FF: Haha. I’m not too thrilled when he does it. It doesn’t hurt unless I catch it wrong and, sometimes, you do catch it wrong. You know, another guy who can light up your hand a little bit is Andrelton Simmons. He has a great arm, too. I’m definitely very conscious of trying to catch the ball in the pocket and not the palm with those guys.
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