I was once a degenerate College Freshmen. A degenerate College freshmen who in week one at the University of Missouri made the University Police Blotter for getting caught smoking blunts in the dorms. Not ideal. My floor was a healthy mix of nerds and narcs. I had to get out of the dorms. That pretty much meant joining a fraternity. I heard that SAE partied the most, so I became an SAE. Cut to the start of the second semester and I’m meeting my pledge brothers.
We are a spring pledge class, so there are only 8 of us. Compare that to around 30 pledges that were in the fall class. We had to do the work previously done by triple the man power. My pledge class was an eclectic group of guys, some of them I loved, some of them I hated. One of the guys I loved was this goofy fuck from Layaffette High School named David Freese. You might recognize the name since he hit one of the most dramatic home runs in World Series History and propelled the Cardinals to a title and himself to WS MVP.
David and I got along right away, we loved a lot of the same things, he liked to party, I liked to party. He didn’t give a shit about school & neither did I, we went to class, but it wasn’t a huge priority, neither of us were doing any homework. We would both later get kicked out of Mizzou for grades. Kids, I don’t recommend this. Dave apparently had a pro baseball career to fall back on. I did not.
Right off the bat Dave starts calling me A-Train, a fitting nickname given that my name starts with an “A” and I was a stocky muscle/fat guy. I played nose tackle in high school if that gives you an idea. A-Train catches on right away and I’m now a guy with a halfway decent nickname that the brothers kinda know.
(I have to pause and tell you how important this was for my life, in 2001 greek life got away with a lot of “hazing” At my frat we were called Donkey’s and our life was chores and doing errands/favors for the brothers. Nothing physical or gay, we were a cleaning, butler and cab service for the active members. They play favorites and nickname-guy is always a fraternity favorite over not nickname-guy I would get the job of driving guys to the Casino while other guys would be scrubbing the floor.)
That one semester probably accounts for like 10% of my best memories. And one of those memories was when I realized David Freese was really fucking good at baseball.
A lot of the guys in my fraternity went to Layaffette High School like Dave; so many in fact that we joked it was a fraternity within a fraternity. Three of the eight guys in my class were Layaffette Lancers, so they had known Dave for years. I remember distinctly Ryan L, casually saying that Dave was an idiot. That he was really fucking good at baseball, that he should be starting for University of Missouri baseball team. Instead he was just being the average college shit head.
I was skeptical, people love to talk up the athletes from their High School. A guy from my high school was the starting catcher for Mizzou and he was an incredible athlete, I looked at Dave and I didn’t see it. I think I was clouded by the fact I knew I could kick his ass. When you know you can beat someone up, it’s hard to take them seriously as an athlete. I was curious if Ryan L, was telling the truth about Dave, a few days later, I found out.
The brothers played a game in our parking lot called home run derby. We used a wiffle ball bat and a wiffle-ball that was covered in duct-tape, so it would travel farther. Only balls leaving the parking lot counted, The outfielders could rob HRs but they couldn’t leave the asphalt. Of course us pledges were out in the ivy beyond the parking lot shagging balls.
Shagging balls was a shit job as far as pledge duties go, it was also a duty nickname-guy often got out of. Today that wasn’t the case and Dave and I are out in the ivy swatting away insects in the humid Missouri air. Bitching to each other about how much this sucks. From the asphalt one of the active brothers calls for Dave to come take some swings for his team. I think to myself “oh now I can see if Ryan was telling the truth about Dave.” Before my brain has even finished forming the thought; Dave is sprinting up to the plate. It’s hard to describe what he did to the very first pitch, but he sent the ball farther than I thought it could theoretically go.
I mean it wasn’t a real baseball, he was using a plastic bat. It sailed over the ivy, over an apartment building and across the street. Nobody had hit the ball half as far, and they had been doing this for hours.
It was pretty much decided using Dave was cheating. He was back shagging balls soon enough. But I saw all I needed to see. I saw exactly what Ryan was talking about.
I have a ton of stories from that semester, Dave is involved in a lot of them. That’s why I was really pissed to find out after that semester Dave was not coming back to school. We kept in touch for one more semester after he left, but I also failed out and we just sorta lost touch. I ended up getting back in and getting a degree. But I wasn’t nearly as involved in frat life as I was before and had to actually focus on school. I hadn’t heard what had happened to Dave.
Then one day, I’m reading a razzball.com & they are talking about a guy named David Freese. I quickly pull the picture, and there he is! My fucking boy in the show! I guess he was an idiot for going to Mizzou? Or not I don’t know. It turned out well for him. I usually don’t root for the St. Louis Cardinals, but I was jumping for joy when I watched Dave put the team and city on his back in game 6, and lock it up game 7.
Things turned out all right for Dave, as for A-Train well I’m still working on that. Definitely not a millionaire like my boy.