November 22, 2017

Former Raider makes name in the Big Leagues

By Peter Santo ‘16, Sports Editor Emeritus; with additional reporting by Owen Zides ’19, Sports Editor

It’s a long road from the Raider baseball team to the major leagues, one that includes lots of hard work and a little luck along the way. For Nate Freiman, a Raider baseball superstar and former Bradford Editor-In-Chief, the journey has been a long and rewarding one, culminating in his signing with the Boston Red Sox.

Freiman broke almost every baseball record imaginable during his time at the high school. Following graduation, he took his talents to Durham, NC and played four years for the Duke Blue Devils baseball team. Although Freiman enjoyed success at Duke, the learning curve going from the Bay State Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference was a steep one.

“It was definitely a challenge going from the BSC to the ACC, but using wood bats at the high school made the transition much easier. I believe that using wood bats in high school allows for more success at the next level,” said Freiman.

While the transition was tough, Freiman certainly took things in stride, starting 28 games as a freshman at Duke and batted .304. After continuing to work on his game with the Orleans Cardinals of the Cape Cod League over the summer, Freiman improved his batting average to .369 as a sophomore and co-led the Blue Devils with seven home runs.

Freiman finished his career at Duke as the team’s all time home run leader and second all time in career batting average. Duke is a very special place for Freiman. It is where he honed his craft before turning professional, as well as where he met his wife Amanda, who played on the golf team at Duke and now plays professionally.

“Duke holds a very special place in my heart for obvious reasons. Amanda and I go back there from time to time. They invited me to speak at the annual baseball banquet in 2014, which was a huge honor,” said Freiman.

“You would think playing in front of 40,000 people in the playoffs would be difficult, but it was actually much harder to get up and speak in front of 100 people,” added Freiman.

After finishing his career at Duke, Freiman set out to achieve his dream of playing in the Major Leagues. He was drafted in the eighth round of the 2009 MLB amateur draft by the San Diego Padres and signed with the club on June 15, 2009.

Like most players, Freiman did not make it to the Majors right away, getting drafted was the beginning of a difficult four year journey.

“Playing in the minors was extremely tough– there were lots of long cross country bus rides, lots of 1 am dinners at Waffle House, much different from life in the Majors,” said Freiman.

After four years in the low minors, Freiman finally achieved his dream in 2013, making his major league debut with the Oakland Athletics. Freiman was a part of an A’s squad that made the playoffs in 2014, leaving him with memories he would never forget.

“One of my favorite games before the playoffs was obviously playing in Fenway Park. I had grown up a Red Sox fan living in Wellesley, and the high school put together a busload of people to come see me play. It was great to see so many old friends come out to show their support,” said Freiman.

“Playing in the playoffs was something I will never forget. We played against the Royals on the road, and there were 40,000 people in Kauffman Stadium screaming like crazy, it was so loud. It was an exhilarating atmosphere. Even though we lost 9-8 in 12 innings, it was a game I’ll always remember,” added Freiman.

The 2014 playoffs could be considered the climax of Freiman’s career, as he has struggled to make it in the Big Leagues ever since. Freiman hit just .220 with the A’s triple A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds, in 2015, and played just 14 games with the Washington Nationals triple A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, in 2016, before being released on April 21st.

Despite his struggles the past two years, Freiman has been able to keep a positive attitude towards his career.

“What allows me to stay positive is realizing how fortunate I am. I’m extremely fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had. I’m extremely proud of everything I’ve done,” said Freiman.

“It also helps to realize that at the end of the day baseball is just a game. It does become your job, but the people who have fun while doing it are the people who are successful. But it is just a game,” said Freiman.

After posting a very good showing for the independent League Long Island Ducks in early May, Freiman had his contract purchased by the Boston Red Sox, where he will report to Double A Portland.

He is not giving up on his dream and hopes to make it back to the Big Leagues with his hometown team. When asked if he has given any thought to life after baseball, he replied, “I’ve thought about maybe going into coaching, but I haven’t thought too much about it,” said Freiman.

While Freiman is one of the most successful athletes, both in high school and beyond, that the high school has ever seen, he also remembers education being a major priority. When asked to give advice to future athletes, he emphasized the importance of getting an education.

“I had the opportunities I did because I did well in school. I was a really good student at Wellesley. Which is why I made it to Duke which is why I could play in the ACC and eventually turn pro. We are all former players for way longer than we are players, and when my career ends I will be fortunate enough to have a degree from Duke,” said Freiman.

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