Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman is representing Canada in the World Baseball Classic this year, despite being born and raised in California. But for Freeman, the decision to play for Canada means something special.
In an interview posted by the Dodgers on Monday, Freeman explained that both his parents were born in Canada — his father in Ontario and his mother, Rosemary Freeman, in a city just outside of Toronto.
At age 10, Freeman tragically lost his mother to skin cancer.
"I played for Team Canada for a very heartfelt reason for me and my family," an emotional Freeman said.
"I don’t know if this is what she would want me to do but in my heart, it’s what I feel I should do. That’s the reason I play [in Canada], it’s to honor my mom."
The 33-year-old infielder went on to say that Dodgers’ fans might be surprised to learn about the little "things" he does in every game to honor her memory, including wearing sleeves because she passed away from skin cancer and wearing a necklace with a lock of her.
"So Dodgers fans, when you get to know me, pretty much everything I do is for my mom and this is what I feel is right."
He continued: "I know a lot of people don’t understand. I was born in California, I know I was. But in my heart, honoring my mother and playing for Team Canada for me, is the right decision."
"I just hope she’s proud of me. Twenty-three years it never goes away. That’s all I want. I hope she’s smiling down."
While Freeman’s teammates would undoubtedly prefer to have him in their dugout, it's a decision they respect.
"That describes what Freddy is all about," six-time All Star Mookie Betts said, via ESPN. "And if I get on first base, yeah, we'll have some fun. Freddie and I have that bond, but that bond with a mom is special."