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MLB team rehires groundskeeper who wrongly spent decades in prison

WATCH ABOVE: As Major League Baseball clubs prepare for a new season, a former employee of the Chicago White Sox, who spent 23 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, is also getting a fresh start.

The Chicago White Sox have welcomed back a former groundskeeper who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

The Chicago Tribune reports that DNA evidence led prosecutors last year to vacate the conviction of 49-year-old Nevest Coleman. He’d been convicted in a 1994 rape and murder.

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The body of a 20-year-old woman was found in the basement of a home on Chicago’s South Side where Coleman lived. Coleman had initially confessed but later recanted the confession.

He was released from prison in November, after DNA tests linked the crime to a serial rapist. A Cook County judge granted him a certificate of innocence this month, which eliminates the rape and murder charges from his record.

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Nevest Coleman power washes the stage outside at Guaranteed Rate Field. The former White Sox grounds keeper was wrongly convicted and started his first day back with the Chicago White Sox on Monday, March 26, 2018 after 23 years in prison. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Nevest Coleman power washes the stage outside at Guaranteed Rate Field. The former White Sox grounds keeper was wrongly convicted and started his first day back with the Chicago White Sox on Monday, March 26, 2018 after 23 years in prison. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Nevest Coleman is dropped off for his first day of work at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday, March 26, 2018 in Chicago, Ill. The former White Sox grounds keeper was wrongly convicted and started his first day back with the Chicago White Sox Monday after 23 years in prison. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Nevest Coleman is dropped off for his first day of work at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday, March 26, 2018 in Chicago, Ill. The former White Sox grounds keeper was wrongly convicted and started his first day back with the Chicago White Sox Monday after 23 years in prison. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Nevest Coleman, center, helps Harry Smith Jr., left, and Jerry Powe with the tarp on Monday, March 26, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Ill. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Nevest Coleman, center, helps Harry Smith Jr., left, and Jerry Powe with the tarp on Monday, March 26, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Ill. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

Coleman’s friends and family reached out to the White Sox after his release. Coleman had frequently talked about his desire to return to work once he was released.

“His first wish, before he wished for a hamburger, was to work for the White Sox,” said Coleman’s cousin, Richard Coleman. “That’s exactly what I told them.”

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The team offered him a job interview and then welcomed him back to the job.

Coleman returned to the baseball field Monday. He began his first shift on the job by spending some time reuniting with his old work friends. He then donned a yellow rubber suit, gloves and goggles before taking a power washer to clean the ground.

“I can be independent now. I don’t have to worry about people giving me things. I can support myself now,” Coleman told WLS-TV.

The team said they’re grateful “justice has been carried out” and thrilled to welcome Coleman “back to the White Sox family.”