Freeland earns 2nd straight Clemente Award nomination

September 18th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding’s Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The path to greatness for any Major Leaguer is consistency, and Rockies left-handed pitcher is well on his way when it comes to community involvement.

For the second straight year, Freeland is the Rockies’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, for his longtime commitment to Special Olympics Colorado and his involvement with children in the Casa (court-appointed special advocates) program.

The Roberto Clemente Award is bestowed annually to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. As part of the process for determining this year’s recipient, fans may vote here.

Freeland, a Denver native, has been involved with children with special needs since he was drafted in 2014 and sent to Grand Junction, Colo. There, his “host mom,” Carma Brown, serves as co-director of the Challenger Baseball Program for Special Olympics Colorado. Since then, Freeland and his wife, Ashley Freeland, have been tireless with their time, contributions and fundraising efforts.

Each year, Freeland raffles off a specially designed glove that he uses during his pregame throwing program. While that is considered the grand prize, there are plenty of others -- such as, currently, baseballs signed by Angels superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

To take part in the raffles, please click here.

“It’s signed baseballs, either from guys on this team or guys on opposing teams that I know and have a big impact on the game,” Freeland said. “These are guys people really get excited for.

“The glove is still the same, and I’m doing memorabilia, like I sent some signed cleats over when Special Olympics did their tailgate with the Rockies this year. We’re trying to raise money and bring attention to that organization.”

Freeland has spoken in the past of how Ian Desmond, who was the Rockies’ nominee for five straight seasons -- including two after he ended his playing career with the club -- impressed upon him the need to use his platform to help the community. 

Now Freeland is passing that lesson to an increasingly young Rockies team.

“I’ve talked to [rookie outfielder] Nolan Jones quite a bit about giving back to your community, helping where you can," Freeland said. "Other guys on the team have supported my efforts with Special Olympics and Casa kids. They’ve been helping out on social media, reposting stuff that I put up.”

Freeland is a proponent of the power of social media being used by the full community of baseball players. Fans may follow Freeland here, as well as here.

“All of MLB is a brotherhood,” Freeland said. “We’re here to uplift one another and help each other out in any way possible. When Toronto was in town, I was talking to [pitcher] Kevin Gausman, a Colorado guy, and asked if he would mind sending a baseball over. He said, ‘Yeah, I was actually on your page the other day looking at stuff, and would be more than happy to help you raise money for that organization.’

“It’s great to know that not only guys in this clubhouse, but guys across the league are willing to help. I’m the same way. If any guys ever need any help with any foundation or any organization they’re working with, I’m there for them.”