Things weren't as dreamy as they appeared for the now 33-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates infielder. Freese explained in a recent interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today that being a World Series hero in the city where he grew up was too much pressure. Freese also revealed that he's battled depression his entire life.
"I was depressed. I was always depressed," Freese told Nightengale of his time in St. Louis. "I never tried to do anything to myself, but I didn’t care about my life. I didn’t care what would happen to me. It was almost to a point that if this is my time, so be it?
"And there was definitely a lack of care about my well-being at certain times, for sure."
Freese won the 2011 World Series MVP after a remarkable Game 6 where he tripled in the bottom of the ninth inning to save his team's title chances and later hit a walk-off home run in the 11th to push the series to a seventh game, which the Cardinals won.
What should have been the highlight of his young life was anything but, as Freese was instead "suffocated" by the city, according to general manager John Mozeliak.
After three drunk-driving incidents, including a December 2009 arrest following his first season as a Cardinal, Freese was traded to the Los Angeles Angels, which former teammate Matt Carpenter called "the best thing that could have happened to him," and he's since married and laid off alcohol, while undergoing counseling for his depression and anxiety issues.
The changes have apparently made Freese play this season with a "rejuvenated heart," according to Nightengale's piece, which has led him to a .326/.453/.535 slash line with the Pirates.
"I used to be so afraid what would happen to me after baseball," Freese explained. "I was getting older, watching other people, and it was like, 'Man, all of these people have their lives together. People were passing me by.'
"That’s all changed. I’m confident that when I retire I’m going to be a loving, great husband. Hopefully a kick-ass father. And a guy who doesn’t booze.
"Things are just so different now."