Meet Caroline Freeman
Hi Everyone! I’m Caroline Freeman and I am so excited to tell you a little bit about myself and my journey through this nomadic baseball life.
My husband Mike and I met on New Years Eve in 2012. Although we had both spent time at Clemson, we never knew each other. It was years later when my sister and one of Mike’s longtime friends brought us together.
My sister was dating this friend at the time (spoiler alert: they are now married), and they came up to Charleston for a big New Year's Eve event. Mike and a few other single friends from Florida were tagalongs for the weekend. Long story short, Mike found me at midnight and the sparks were flying...literally.
Over the past five years we have navigated our way through this crazy life together. I say navigated because I like to think of it as a relational road map. We have had ups and downs, accidents, unexpected detours, hiccups, and more than one pit stop where we needed to pause, take a break, and regroup before moving on to our next great adventure together.
Mike came up in the Diamondbacks organization so my first glance into the glamorous world of baseball was in Mobile, Alabama with their AA affiliate. Although the trips were short and it rained pretty much every day I was there, I still look back on those first few trips and cherish the memories because that is where I fell in love with my husband. The excitement of getting to see him was all I needed to get through the weeks we spent apart.
In a crowded apartment with too many inhabitants, discount furniture covered in sheets, and paper plates with plastic cutlery, Mike told me he loved me for the first time. I also met my first baseball bestie in the stands at good ol' Hank Aaron Stadium, a friendship I still cherish to this day. So although there was nothing glamorous about my time in Mobile it is still a place I hold near and dear to my heart and it always makes me smile when I think back to our first year of dating.
We spent the majority of our next three seasons in Reno, NV where Mike was playing for the Diamondback’s AAA team. You learn the value of communication and the strength of a relationship when you rely on midnight emails, 2 AM post-game chats, and only a few short phone calls throughout the week.
In Feb of 2015 we got engaged and I started traveling with Mike. Since then the seasons have been full of ups and downs.
I’ll be honest, the first year on the road in a strange city, far away from friends, family, and work was HARD. I was so eager to be with him, but I had not anticipated all the feelings that came with it!
I felt inadequate because I wasn’t working full time and I felt alone because I was in a city 2,500 miles away from everyone I loved. I was also planning a wedding in Charleston, SC from Reno, NV…not ideal and not good for stress levels.
If I’m being totally honest, the first few months I felt completely lost as a person. However, when I look back on my first year of travel, that isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
I think about the amazing couple we shared an apartment with and our favorite Thai restaurant down the street. I think about the families on that team that became our family. I think about the surprise bridal shower the team put on for me and all the day trips we took to Lake Tahoe that completely took my breath away. I think about the small pilates studio where I worked part time and the incredible women that walked through those doors.
By the end of the season I had fallen in love with a city that once made me cry and gained a new appreciation for the “baseball family” and the love and support that comes with it.
In 2016 our season was off to a great start. Things were going really well for Mike, Reno felt more like home, I was much more adjusted to the lifestyle and oh yeah, we were married! We had been in Reno for a few months when I got the worst phone call of my life.
The guys were on a long road trip so I was at the apartment by myself. My 19 year old brother had been hit on a bicycle and was fighting for his life in the Trauma ICU in Charleston. In a matter of seconds I was back to feeling completely alone, lost, and 2,500 miles away from everyone I loved.
I spent the rest of the season traveling to numerous hospitals where my brother received treatment and then home to Greenville to help take care of him. As horrible as it was for our family to go through, there were blessings throughout that strengthened our relationships with God and each other. The amount of love and support we received from our baseball family during this time was overwhelming. Knowing that we had people praying for our family from all over the country, many we had never even met, was incredibly humbling and meant so much.
About the time my brother was cleared to leave the ICU for a regular floor I got to take my first trip to see Mike since I had flown home…All Star Break in Tahoe! Afterwards, we were in Reno and I was planning to head back a day or two later when I got one of the BEST phone calls of my life. This time it was Mike and he was calling me back to the field because after six years of grinding it out in the minors he was going to the show…and so was I.
This year we have been with three different organizations and Mike has walked into six different clubhouses. Is that a record? For the most part, our home has been a hotel, and our closets have been oversized luggage, packed and unpacked every few days. It has by far been the craziest year of baseball for us, but I think it has been my favorite.
I have met so many amazing people along the way and I have seen how God has used different circumstances to challenge me, strengthen me, and use me and my experiences to make a difference in other people’s journeys. I will continue to be grateful for the opportunities we have been given and I am already looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead.
My outlook on many things changed prior to this season and it has definitely served me well. I am embracing the crazy and getting the most out of every opportunity, especially those we never saw coming…or even wanted. This life is absolutely what you make of it and I am honored to be on this wild ride with all of you.
Thanks for taking the time to read our story!