Watch: Freeman tears up during Atlanta return
Ahead of a three-game set against the Atlanta Braves, with whom he spent 12 seasons before leaving via free agency last offseason, Freeman started crying when asked about receiving his World Series ring later in the day.
"That ring is just not a ring to me," Freeman said, fighting through tears. "It's all the sacrifices. It's all the missed family time. It's all the hours and broken wrists. The 14-hour bus rides in the minor leagues ... the grind every single year."
Freeman added, "To do it with ... all those guys in that uniform in the clubhouse that are still there and some that aren't. That ring, there's nothing better."
He also discussed the emotions he felt when returning to Truist Park as a visitor for the first time and seeing numerous Freeman jerseys:
Freeman cried again while receiving his ring during the pregame ceremony Friday. He embraced Braves manager Brian Snitker and earned a raucous "Freddie" chant from the crowd.
The pleasantries continued when Freeman approached the plate for his first at-bat. The 2007 second-round pick wound up working a five-pitch walk off former teammate Ian Anderson.
"It's hard to describe how I felt in that moment," Freeman said following the Dodgers' 4-1 win, according to Charles Odum of The Associated Press. "Just a lot of love."
This series is the second Freeman will play against the Braves in 2022. Los Angeles took two of three games at Dodger Stadium in late April.
The five-time All-Star helped the Braves claim their first championship since 1995 last year, finishing with down-ballot MVP consideration and earning his third Silver Slugger award.
Freeman tested free agency for the first time this past winter. After the Braves signaled they wouldn't re-sign their 2020 MVP by acquiring Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics, Freeman landed a six-year, $162-million contract with the Dodgers. The 32-year-old is hitting .303/.386/.494 with eight homers and six stolen bases through 68 games this season.
Over a dozen campaigns with the Braves, Freeman hit 367 doubles and 271 home runs to rank third and sixth, respectively, in franchise history.