Freese thankful for mom's unwavering support
Through the good times and the bad, she has always been there for her son
It was just before his senior year of high school, as scouts started calling and recruitment letters began to trickle in, when David Freese, one of the best amateur players in the state of Missouri, decided he was done with baseball. He came home one day, looked his mother, Lynn, square in the eye and said, "This is it."
And so she did what a mother should in a situation like that and supported her son.
But that doesn't mean she believed him.
"His last game, I remember a dad coming up to me and saying, 'What's the matter with your kid? Why is he quitting?'" Lynn recalled. "I said, 'Don't worry, he'll be back.'"
David took a year off to be part-student -- but mostly frat boy -- at the University of Missouri, then he got the itch to play in the August leading into his sophomore year of college. David got home one day, asked his mom to sit on the couch, told her not to say anything until he finished talking, and expressed his desire to return to the game he'd played since he was 4 years old.
"He said he couldn't see himself sitting in a cubicle the rest of his life," Lynn recalled. "I said, 'The baseball field is a pretty big cubicle.' He said, 'Well, I'm going back.' And it's history from there."
Freese made the team at St. Louis Community College, transferred to the University of South Alabama, got drafted by the Padres in the ninth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft and went on to be an everyday third baseman in the Major Leagues -- first as a World Series hero for his hometown Cardinals and now as an integral part of the Angels' lineup.
To this day, David feels he needed that time off, to find himself and, ultimately, to realize just how much he missed the game. And he'll identify only two people who fully supported his decision -- his father, Guy, and his mother, Lynn.
Said Freese, who's currently rehabbing a non-displaced fracture in his right middle finger: "Through the good, the bad, the ugly, she's always been there for me."
Mother's Day 2014 is bittersweet for Lynn, because her son now plays baseball 2,000 miles away and because it marks the one-year anniversary of her own mother's passing.
Lynn's mom died on May 12, 2013, and was buried five days later in Houston, with a Cards blanket attached to the casket because she was such a diehard baseball fan. Back in St. Louis, David hit a grand slam that day, and Lynn couldn't help but smile.
"I swear," she said, "my mom was on the other end of the bat."
Lynn, a retired middle school teacher, has lived roughly 25 miles west of downtown St. Louis for the past quarter-century. For the previous five years, her son was close by. Now that he isn't, as a result of the November 2013 trade that sent Freese to Southern California, "Our privacy has been lifted," Lynn said.
"The mountaintop he reached, 2011, wow, you know?"
Freese was on top of the world in October of that year, being named the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series and Fall Classic, as the hometown kid in a baseball-crazed city. Lynn experienced it all with him, from the thrilling times -- she'll never forget lifting her head at the crack of the bat and seeing Freese's ball land in the center-field grass to win Game 6 of the World Series -- to the times when the fame became a little too much.
"It was time to move on," she said. "I think David was ready to move on, too. Really -- it was getting pretty hard for him. I remember sitting at IHOP one morning, getting ready to take him to Spring Training a couple years ago, and people knew who we were, and we just kept our heads down eating our breakfast. It's 7 in the morning. That's how bad it was.
"I think this will give David a little more peace of mind; a little more anonymity."
Besides, you can't beat the weather.
Lynn visited Southern California recently and shot her son a text message while he was at the ballpark:
"I'm afraid you're never going to come home, David."
"I'm afraid you're not going to want to leave, Mom."
"You know, I think it's all right," Freese, 31, said, smiling, when asked about no longer having his mother by his side all the time. "We had a good run with the Cardinals and all that. My parents -- my mom and my dad, all my family -- they enjoyed it all. They see how happy I am out here, and it gives them a chance to come out to the West Coast and hang out and get out of the house a little bit. I'm sure my mom misses me, but she knows I'm enjoying it out here."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.