Freeman offers grieving Iglesias a shoulder to lean on

DENVER (AP) — Freddie Freeman's biggest play at first base in the season opener may have been a supportive hug.

The new Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman knew all too well the feelings Colorado's José Iglesias was experiencing.

After reaching on a run-scoring single Friday, Iglesias pointed to the sky as he was overcome by emotion. Iglesias told a concerned Freeman how he had just recently lost his dad, who had seen pretty much every big league hit — until this one.

An instant bond. Freeman lost his mom to skin cancer when he was 10.

“I just tried to be there for him, console him and just know that it’s more than a game," Freeman said Saturday as he sat in the clubhouse. "You never know what any of us are going through in life. If he didn’t tell me, I would never have known that he had lost his father a couple of weeks ago. So I think it just kind of reminds you to just have some compassion and some humility and just be kind to others.

“Because, in that moment, all I wanted to do was hug that guy.”

Iglesias appreciated the support and kind words from Freeman in the second inning. Freeman tapped Iglesias on the helmet and pulled him in for a comforting hug.

“He knows what it feels like,” said Iglesias, whose father was from Cuba. “Freddie’s a great guy.”

Iglesias talked about the role his father played in his life when he was growing up, how he worked long hours in a factory. But no matter how tired he was, he would always take his son to the baseball field.

“His dream was to watch me play in the big leagues,” said Iglesias, who made his major league debut in 2011 with Boston. “He told me once, he said, ’If I ever watch you play (in the majors) for one day, I’d be good to go after that.' He watched me play for 10 years. ... He’s in a better place now, watching me every day.”

The moment hit Freeman, too.

"It just started making me think about my mom and stuff,” Freeman said. “When you lose a parent, all you can do is just give that person a hug. There’s no word that's really going to be enough.

“His father was shining down on him to be able to get that single. You’ll never forget your dad. So all I could do is just give him a hug.”

Freeman, the 2020 NL MVP, signed a six-year, $162 million contract with Los Angeles after leading the Atlanta Braves to a World Series championship last season. But on Friday, in that moment in the second inning, it was bigger than baseball.

“We’re a fraternity,” Freeman said. “We have different uniforms on but you take the uniforms off, we’re all friends in this game. ... You get to come across a lot of amazing people.

"By the looks of it, his family loves baseball just as much as I love baseball. So I’m just glad to be able to be a part of it and just let him know that I care about him.”


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