Memories are a fickle thing. They come and go as our synapses make connections between what we’re experiencing in the present with what’s come before. They can be triggered by a word, a smell, a sound. But when memories are shared by many, they become even more powerful. We may struggle to recall a particular event on our own, but when someone else says “remember when,” that forgetfulness fades away. That phrase is a gateway into the collective memory of a community. “Remember when it snowed in Cleveland?” “Remember when lightning flashed above Safeco Field?”
Remember when Mike Freeman flew through the air?
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the physical skill it took to make that play. The infield was playing in on the grass, reducing Freeman’s reaction time. He’s right-handed and is moving to his right, so he has to reach across his body to get to the ball. He takes one step and then leaps into the air. In the end, this stellar defensive play was worth .19 WPA—a critical play but not the most impactful of the game.
It’s very likely that Mike Freeman is the 40th man on the Mariners 40-man roster. It’s entirely possible that Jerry Dipoto will have designated Freeman for assignment by the time you’re done reading this. Considering the names ahead of him, Freeman will need a standout spring training and a lot of luck to make it onto the 2017 roster. As a 29-year-old with limited minor league success, he’s probably destined for the shuttle between the majors and the minors.
Freeman got his first big league hit with the Mariners, he roped a crucial double in the penultimate game of the season, and he made that game saving play. Those moments were earned. Given time, that diving play will probably fade into our collective memories, the same way thousands of other standout plays have too. But for one moment in time, Mike Freeman flew through the air. I doubt he’ll ever forget.