Baby is blessing in special year for Freemans

Baby is blessing in special year for Freemans

ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Sam Freeman has much to be thankful for in 2015. He and his wife Jamie were married on Jan. 10, he was traded to the hometown Rangers and the Freemans moved into a new house in the growing Dallas suburb of Prosper after the season.

As great as that has been, the best is due just after Thanksgiving, when Jamie is expecting the couple's first child. The impending arrival of daughter Ryan will have the entire Freeman family on alert through Thanksgiving weekend.

"Anytime I go anywhere I have my phone out ready to go," Freeman said, sitting in a coffee shop on a Thursday afternoon one week before Thanksgiving. "I'm waiting for the call. I don't like to go far distances ... straying out too far and having to rush back. So we're kind of juggling and setting plans. It's fluid so to speak.

"She is due on the 30th. A Thanksgiving baby."

Daddy has been busy. He already has the car seat secured and a stroller is next -- plus maybe some kind of basketball court in the backyard. Mom was a basketball player and her mom was a high school basketball coach in Texas.

"Everybody keeps telling me to catch up on my sleep now," Freeman said. "I'm just working out and making sure I'm rested up because [Jamie] is going to be the one who needs the rest. I think I am prepared for the most part. It's just a lot of responsibility."

Fortunately, he has the right role models to lead the way. Ryan will be welcomed into a close-knit family deeply embedded in the Texas soil. There is good reason why Freeman rejoiced when the Cardinals traded him to the Rangers at the end of Spring Training.

"That was such a blessing," Freeman said. "Not many people get to play in the city they grew up in and get to sleep in their own bed."

Freeman was born in Houston but raised along with his brother Nate in the north Dallas suburb of Carrollton. He went to Hebron High School, where his mother, Vergie, still works as an administrative assistant when she is not putting together early educational toys for her new granddaughter. Theo Freeman is a railroad operations manager at Occidental Chemical.

They were living in Carrollton back when Freeman could look out the window and see cows grazing in the pasture across the street. Now a middle school stands there. Don't think Dad was the only influence on Freeman's budding baseball career.

"My mom used to play softball," Freeman said. "Our house was a half-mile from a sandlot field at the elementary school, so we would just go there and just play. Hit the ball and run the bases.

"For vacations, we would always take a road trip ... drive from our house to Virginia to see my mom's family, and then to Ohio to see my dad's family. That was pretty much it, sports and that road trip were something we could bank on every year. It was pretty simple, whatever sport was in season, that's what we would be going to, practices, my games."

From all of that, though, Freeman learned one basic lesson about being a parent.

"Take time to be there," Freeman said. "Take care of your responsibility. Children come first. My mom and dad have always been there for me whatever I needed. I got some pretty good examples ... my parents being there. Anytime I needed something, they were always there to support me."

So for Ryan ... 

"I'm just looking forward to being with her in the backyard, just running around, playing with her, watching her grow," Freeman said. "I already have it in my head she is going to play basketball ... actually doing whatever she wants, but she definitely is going to be active.

"But I say that and who knows, she might excel in the flute or the violin or science or math. I just want to her to be successful in anything she wants to do. I just want to teach her to reach for the sky and dream big. Don't set any limits on yourself."

So this Thanksgiving, the plan is for Theo and Vergie to come to Prosper for the family gathering and then up to Lake Kiowa outside Gainesville, Texas, on Friday to be with Jamie's family.

But the cellphones are fully charged, and who knows, the Freemans could be dining at the hospital cafeteria on Thanksgiving while celebrating the arrival of Ryan.

No matter where, this should be a great Thanksgiving at the end of a memorable season for the Freemans.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.