Throughout the 2023 MLB season, there has been plenty of entertainment when it comes to in-game celebrations.
Baseball teams have been no strangers to celebrations in the past, but whether it’s a home run or an extra-base hit, this season its been taken to another level.
Among the more notable celebrations is the Baltimore Orioles sprinkler celebration.
Then there’s the Seattle Mariners trident celebration for home runs.
And who can forget about the Los Angeles Angels famous samurai helmet celebration?
Recently, there’s been a new celebration sweeping the league. The Los Angeles Dodgers have started a new celebration known simply as, “The Freddie.”
The Dodgers celebration dance affectionately pokes fun at All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman, whose dance moves went viral during the LADF Blue Diamond Gala event in June that featured a private concert by Usher.
By now, Dodgers fans are aware of the reason behind the new team celebration, but why did it take over a month for it to make its debut, and how has it sparked the team’s recent success on the field?
Well, for those seeking the answer, we have Max Muncy, and his two-year-old daughter Sophie to thank.
Following the Dodgers series victory over the Baltimore Orioles July 17-19, the team flew to Dallas where they had an off day before facing the Texas Rangers for a three-game series in Arlington.
As Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts recently mentioned, an off day on the road is quite rare, so Muncy, who lives in Dallas during the offseason, decided to throw a 2nd birthday party for his daughter, Sophie Kate, and he invited the entire team. Little did he know, they all would show up.
“The coolest thing was everyone showed up,” said Roberts of the party. “Even guys who didn’t have their families in town, or guys that had little ones all showed up and had a great time. Everyone showed up and that was something that was telling for me.”
Even former Dodger, and current Texas Rangers All-Star shortstop Corey Seager showed up to the party to celebrate with his old team.
“It was a birthday party for my daughter, and it was for all the other kids that were on the trip, and we had multiple guys that came out that didn’t even have their family with them and they still came out to support and have a good time. It was very special,” said Muncy. “It’s one of the best teams I’ve been a part of, just clubhouse-wise, we may have had one other team that might be as talented as this team, but I don’t think any of the teams come close to what we have with the culture in this clubhouse, and that proves it.”
The seemingly innocuous child’s birthday party didn’t just bring the team closer, it sparked a new celebration, and with it, came a hot streak that the Dodgers had not had all year.
“Well I think everyone might’ve seen my dance moves at the Gala. That kind of went around on the Internet,” said Freeman during a postgame interview with Spectrum SportsNetLA after the dance made its debut. “My hands were up, so the boys have been wanting to do this for a while. It took an off day and us all at [Max] Muncy’s last night for his daughter’s birthday party, that we decided to implement it to the game.”
Since the birthday celebration at the Muncy’s home and the dance made its debut the following night, the Dodgers have been the hottest team in baseball. They’ve won 13 out of their last 14 games and are currently in the midst of a nine-game winning streak.
The recent string of wins has seen the Dodgers surge up the rankings in the NL West, and they are now 9.5 games ahead of the second-place San Francisco Giants. In a recent interview, Roberts explained that the party was more than just a meetup amongst teammates, but something that built undeniable team chemistry that has manifested its way onto the diamond.
“Off days are few and far between,” said Roberts about the off day party at Max Muncy’s home. “So for guys that don’t have any skin in the game, or kids involved to still show up, that shows how they feel about each other, and I think that manifests itself into how they perform at the ballpark.”
Other veteran players have pointed to the party at Muncy’s house as a turning point for the team as well. Dodgers’ shortstop, Miguel Rojas, went on Chris Rose’s podcast recently to talk about it.
“We went to Max Muncy’s daughter’s 2nd birthday party,” said Rojas. “It was nice to get together with all the families. That’s something we’ve been building here for this season. Since preseason started we’ve been doing a lot of stuff to connect this group of guys beyond just baseball and the regular season and the grind of 162 games. We wanted to have fun on and off the field and try to connect and stay together. We want to build something really special and something we’re always going to remember.”
The 2023 season was supposed to be a down year for the Dodgers, at least that’s what all the critics and pundits said before the season. Admittedly, the Dodgers scuttled out of the gate and were barely over .500 through April and May. The pitching staff was atrocious in June, but since July things have steadily improved. Now, slowly, but surely, you can feel that something special is starting to happen at Dodger Stadium.
“We’ve always kind of done stuff off the field, but I think this year we’ve kind of taken it to another level with the number of team dinners, team functions that we do,” said Dodgers’ super utility player Chris Taylor. “I think this group is probably a little closer, does a little more off the field than groups in the past, but I think we’ve always taken pride in being a tight-knit group. The closer you are with your teammates, the more invested you are, the more you pull for guys.”
The Dodgers magic number to clinch the NL West is down to 34, as of the publication of this article. At this point, winning their 10th division title in their last 11 seasons seams like an inevitability, rather than hopeful optimism. With the playoffs quickly approaching, it begs the question: what other team-building events could the Dodgers have in store?
Well, Dodgers’ All-Star Mookie Betts will be celebrating his 31st birthday on October 7th. That’s right when the division series are supposed to start. Could Mookie’s birthday bash be the catalyst the team needs to help boost their chances of winning their 8th World Series championship?
Here’s hoping so.