Freese's blast evokes memories of Edmonds
Former Cards slugger hit similar homer in Game 6 of '04 NLCS
ST. LOUIS -- David Freese was traded from the Padres to the Cardinals for Jim Edmonds on Dec. 14, 2007, and the two of them worked out together last offseason and are good friends.
Now they have something else in common: Game 6 extra-inning walk-off home runs that made Cardinals fans go crazy.
"I'll be honest with you, I was running around the bases, and Edmonds popped into my head, that moment, because I remember when he did that in Game 6," Freese said.
"So do I," quipped teammate Lance Berkman.
Berkman was on the Astros' bench after a late substitution during that unforgettable night in 2004 at old Busch Stadium. It was 4-4 in the bottom of the 12th in the National League Championship Series -- drama in parallel to that historic Red Sox comeback against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
Albert Pujols was on first with one out, and Edmonds crushed the second pitch he saw from reliever Dan Miceli over the wall in right-center. Then the Cardinals got past Roger Clemens to clinch the pennant a night later, setting up the World Series that Boston swept.
The obvious difference in this case was that Freese's leadoff blast to center field off Mark Lowe came a round later -- and amidst what is shaping up as one of the most exciting and eventful Fall Classics of all-time. It was interesting that Berkman and Pujols both played a role in this one as well, each involved in the previous inning's rally to send it to the 11th.
Edmonds has been enjoying his first year of retirement since ending his bid to make the Cardinals' roster in Spring Training. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4 of the recent NLCS here against Milwaukee -- and received a standing ovation from the Busch crowd in the process. Shortly before that appearance, he dropped by the MLB Fan Cave in New York and told MLB.com that he was enjoying "just being a dad," but did miss this kind of moment.
"Playing in the postseason is so special," Edmonds said. "It took me seven or eight years to get there, and when I got there, it was everything I thought it would be. The excitement and the fans were just second to none. It's quite a dream come true. It definitely makes the season worth it, to be able to get on that stage."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was reminded after Freese's walk-off homer that he has been managing for 31 years and is "closing in on 70 years old." When asked if he had seen anything like what happened Thursday, La Russa summoned the memory of the veteran who wore No. 15 before Rafael Furcal:
"Well, I feel like I've managed about 50 years, but I feel like I'm only about 40," La Russa said. "After a game like that, you feel like you just show up at the park someday and you won a game and you enjoy eating pizza or something. Yeah, they asked me right away -- I said something about Edmonds' home run in the Championship Series in '04."
So the only question now is: Will Freese make a defensive play for the ages at third base in Game 7? Edmonds followed up his Game 6 NLCS heroics by making that diving catch going back toward the wall, a play that saved the game and helped the Cards reach the World Series.