<
>

'Freeze' frame: Catching up with the Braves' viral sensation

Nigel Talton was a track star at Iowa Wesleyan and Shorter University. Logan Riely/Getty Images

"Beat The Freeze," the Atlanta Braves promotion in which a fan races a speedster in a full body suit, got the attention of the nation on Friday, when "The Freeze" vanquished a cocky fan steps from the finish line.

In an attempt to play our own version of catch-up, we tracked down 26-year-old Nigel Talton, a former track star at Iowa Wesleyan and Shorter University, to find out how he became "The Freeze" and what he is doing with his newfound fame.

Rovell: How did you become "The Freeze?"

Talton: Well, first of all, I've been a member of the Atlanta Braves grounds crew since 2012. They came to my college, and they had a position, and I applied. At Turner Field, the grounds crew would run out onto the field in the bottom of the third and the sixth when we changed the bases. I sprinted to third because it was the farthest distance.

Rovell: This got you noticed?

Talton: Yeah, and the Braves had this stolen base challenge promotion, and I got involved with that. So at the end of last season, the marketing guys came to me and said they had a new promotion at the SunTrust, where I would race a fan.

Rovell: You were psyched to do this?

Talton: Definitely. But I lost on Opening Night.

Rovell: What?

Talton: So the way it works is, they let the fan go, and at some point, someone on top who is [watching] it, relays to the guy standing by me when I should go. They didn't have it down yet, and they gave him too much of a lead, and I just couldn't make up the distance. I also couldn't see.

Rovell: All right, take me through that one.

Talton: The suit was a full-body suit that completely covered my eyes, and then I had goggles over my eyes. So I couldn't see. I realized I would have to cut a hole where the eyes were.

Rovell: Were you upset about losing?

Talton: No, I don't get upset. This is all entertainment.

Rovell: Friday's race was just so perfect. The guy had an outstanding lead, and you closed, he gloated, you passed him, he ate dirt, and you crossed the finish line.

Talton: Yeah, I saw him showboating twice. I was pretty confident I was going to catch him.

Rovell: Did you tell him anything?

Talton: I said he did a good job.

Rovell: Ha. On race days, do you do your normal grounds crew job?

Talton: Yes, the only difference is that the day of the game, if we're going to do the race, I get a text in the morning that tells me what inning I'm going to be running in so that I can get ready.

Rovell: How have you dealt with all the attention after Friday's race?

Talton: It has been fun. I've been contacted by a lot of family and friends. They're like, "We didn't know you were doing that."

Rovell: You've won five of six races. The promotion is for 27 races. Are you ready to run every night if things change?

Talton: I'll do what I'm told. I'd love that opportunity.

Rovell: You tried to get to the 2016 Olympics trials and didn't get there. What's the fastest you've run the 200 meters, and how good do you think you can be?

Talton: I've run 21.5 seconds [Reference: Usain Bolt's world record is 19.19 seconds], but I think if I had the opportunity and I could focus on track, I could be a top American runner.

Rovell: How much training are you doing now?

Talton: Pretty much enough to be "The Freeze."