ST. LOUIS – It’s been 12 years since David Freese earned his place in St. Louis Cardinals lore, playing hero twice in an epic comeback that paved the way to the Cardinals’ most recent World Series title.
On Oct. 27, 2011, the Cardinals returned home for Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, trailing the series three games to two and just one loss away from their season ending. That night, they also came within one strike of the season ending – not once, but twice.
Even in the face of adversity, the 2011 Cardinals proved to be a resilient bunch capable or miracles. St. Louis overcame an 11.5-game deficit in mid-August to claim the National League’s final postseason spot on the last day of the regular season.
David Freese, a then 28-year-old third baseman raised in suburban St. Louis, kept the magic going when the Cardinals needed it most.
Heading into the ninth inning of Game 6, the Cardinals trailed the Rangers by a score of 7-5. Albert Pujols doubled in what some thought could have been his last at-bat with the Cardinals, while veteran Lance Berkman drew a walk. The Rangers mustered two outs, needing just one more for their first World Series title in franchise history.
On a 1-2 count, Freese elevated a 98-mph fastball to deep right field, just out of the reach of Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz. The ball bounced off the “Gulf” advertisement on the outfield wall. Pujols and Berkman rushed home to score, and Freese ended up at third base with the game-tying triple, rocking the Busch Stadium crowd.
The big hit forced extra innings, but Texas didn’t quit in pursuit of its first title. The Rangers reclaimed a two-run lead on a home run from former MVP Josh Hamilton.
The Cardinals once again found themselves down to their final strike in the 10th inning. Lance Berkman, who scored the game-tying run in the ninth, kept the season alive once more with a line-drive single, knotting the game at 9-9.
Onto the 11th, St. Louis kept Texas scoreless and set the stage for Freese once again. This time, he faced Texas relief pitcher Mark Lowe and worked the count full.
After that came one of the most thrilling moments in recent Cardinals history.
As called by then FOX Sports broadcaster Joe Buck, “Freese hits it in the air to center… We will see you tomorrow night!”
Then came the fireworks, jubilation and teammates huddled around home plate. The Cardinals pulled off an improbable comeback and won Game 6 by a score of 10-9.
The next night, the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers by a score of 6-2 and secured their 11th World Series, which remains the most among National League teams and most for anyone aside from the New York Tankees.
Freese ended the Fall Classic with eight hits, seven RBI and a .348 batting average, finishing as the 2011 World Series MVP.
With the big moment to his name, Freese declined an opportunity to be inducted to the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame earlier this year, but you’ll still occasionally see him at games and public events around the region.
Happy 12-year anniversary of the David Freese game! As for this year’s World Series, the opener between the Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks is set for Friday evening on FOX 2. First pitch is scheduled for around 7 p.m. CT.