A field day at Lakewood Elementary was the first time Richard Cox noticed Choo Freeman’s speed. He quickly recruited him to play on his son Ryan’s peewee football team. Freeman’s mother, who lived in an apartment on Gaston and had other young children, agreed to let him play if someone could drive him. The Coxes volunteered, and Freeman began spending his weekends with the family after Friday night games. In fourth grade, he moved in and began attending Dallas Christian School, eventually becoming an all-state basketball and football player and helped the Chargers to six state titles, including the baseball championship his senior year. Freeman signed a letter of intent to play football with Texas A&M before the Colorado Rockies drafted him. After working his way through the minor league system, he’s nearing the end of his first full season with the Rockies, alternating as center fielder and hitting mostly against left-handed pitchers.
You could have chosen a number of paths athletically. Why baseball?
Growing up in Texas, it’s pretty much a football state. I had always wanted to play football collegiately and professionally, but I started playing baseball year-round, and it just started growing on me. It took over my life as I got older — baseball was it, and I figured the earlier I got started professionally, the earlier I could get into the big leagues. Going through the minor leagues, I went through a lot of ups and downs, but it all paid off in the end because I knew what it took to get here, and that made it worth so much more.
What’s it like to hear the fans yell “Choooooo!” when you step up to the plate?
It sounds like they’re booing, but they’re really saying my name and the weird thing about it is I doubt any of them really know my real name (Raphael). I told them they should put it as a trivia question on the Jumbotron. When I first got up to the major leagues, nobody knew my real name until a couple players I knew in Dallas — Jason Jennings and Brad Hawpe — came here, and it got around the clubhouse. Jason’s dad was my little league football coach, and Brad and I played baseball together in the summer, and somehow we ended up on the same team.
You hit a three-run homer against Texas with your family in town to watch. How did that feel?
It was my first home run at Coors Field, and it was good to do that against the Rangers because I knew people back home were watching. I got a whole bunch of text messages from friends and family members saying we saw the home run and catches, so keep up the good work.
How did growing up with two families impact where you are today?
I grew up with my mom and my sister; we lived in apartment over in Lakewood next to Lindsley Park. I went to Lakewood Elementary, and Ryan and I became really good friends there. My mom and sister were going to move out to Mesquite, and Richard said there’s a good school there and they’d be glad to have him. They helped me get into Dallas Christian, and it all happened from there. They took me into their home like one of their sons, and I still consider them parents, really — it’s one huge family. I wouldn’t be the same person I am right now if it wasn’t for the Coxes and for the school I went to.
What’s next for your baseball career?
I’m hoping to eventually be starting every day and someday go to the playoffs and win the World Series, and especially to just contribute to the team. It’s just a mindset you have to have — staying positive and mentally tough no matter what goes on in this game. I think if I keep my head on straight and work hard, I’ll get to where I need to be.
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