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Big Astros fan as kid, Friedman back for WS

Dodgers executive's father proudly rooting for son's club
MLB.com @RichardJustice

HOUSTON -- What a proud, wonderful, if slightly awkward, homecoming this is going to be for Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

"There's no more joy for a parent," said his father, Kenny, a Houston attorney. "I'm just so thrilled for my son."

HOUSTON -- What a proud, wonderful, if slightly awkward, homecoming this is going to be for Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

"There's no more joy for a parent," said his father, Kenny, a Houston attorney. "I'm just so thrilled for my son."

Here's the other part of that. While Andrew Friedman could be on the threshold of a career-defining moment, it would come at the expense of the team he grew up cheering.

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That's where we're at as the Astros and Dodgers, tied at a game apiece, prepare to play Game 3 of the World Series tonight at Minute Maid Park.

Actually, Andrew Friedman did way more than root for the Astros. As he once said, "Other kids went to summer camp. I went to baseball camp."

He hung around the Astrodome so much that attendants and security personnel figured he was a player's son and gave him the run of the place.

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"I'd show up at a game, and he'd have gloves, bats and shoes that players had given him," Kenny Friedman said.

Andrew also got to know visiting players, sometimes even getting rides to the game with them. Did we mention he was an avid autograph collector?

"He once gave Tim Raines 150 of his rookie cards to sign," Kenny said. "Tim took them back to his hotel room, signed all of 'em, and gave 'em back the next day. I mean, who does that?"

There were other indications of where Andrew Friedman's life might be headed. He arranged baseball cards on the floor of his bedroom and worked out imaginary trades.

He played, too, including four years at Tulane University before spending five as an analyst on Wall Street. Along the way, he met Stuart Sternberg, who in 2005 purchased the Rays and invited Andrew Friedman to make a career change.

"I wanted to play Major League Baseball for as long as I can remember," Andrew Friedman said. "Once I realized that dream was not going to come true, my focus shifted to how to stay involved in the game. I've wanted to be part of it for as long as I can remember."

He quickly established himself as one of the brightest minds in the game by leading the Rays to four postseason appearances despite one of the game's lowest payrolls. In 2014, he joined the Dodgers' front office.

Now he'll have family and friends, including his parents, dotted throughout Minute Maid Park when the Dodgers and Astros play this weekend.

"It's a little surreal," he said. "I don't think I've really let it soak in that the team I grew up rooting for is who we're squaring off against in the World Series. Obviously, a little bit of it has seeped in.

"But trying to stay focused on what we're trying to do. Obviously when we won in Game 5 [of the National League Championship Series], my phone blew up, and once the Astros won in Game 7 [of the American League Championship Series], fireworks went off in my phone. It's been interesting to learn which of my friends are rooting for the Dodgers and which are rooting for the Astros. But I'm trying to keep it all under wraps and let it set in more after the World Series."

He has helped construct a front office universally respected for its insight and judgment. While the Dodgers do have baseball's highest payroll, they've gotten huge contributions from under-the-radar acquisitions like center fielder Chris Taylor.

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"I think the thing I'm proudest of is our organizational cohesion," Friedman said. "We have so many talented people all working together, reading from the same song sheet, and with that has come the change in the culture in our front office but more importantly in our clubhouse.

"It's been interesting to me with guys we've acquired, like [reliever] Tony Watson. Talking to him a week after we got him, I was asking him how he was doing, how he was settling in, how things were going.

"He said, 'It's been incredible,'" Friedman said. "If you care about winning, this is the best clubhouse environment you could ever imagine. Everybody every day is focused on gaining some edge and how to win that night's game. Everyone is talking to each other and helping to prepare and pointing out things that they've noticed. Having that mindset, and especially in a big market, has been probably the most gratifying thing since I got here."

Friedman's father serves as chairman of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, which was instrumental in the construction of Minute Maid Park.

While he's deeply immersed in all aspects of Houston sports, he's rooting another way this weekend.

"He had a good line, which is, 'I'm rooting for the team that pays my son,'" Andrew Friedman said.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros