Fan who catches walk-off gifts ball to Freese
Alert Huyette becomes part of history with dash onto lawn
ST. LOUIS -- For the bottom half of each of the final four innings of his team's epic Game 6 win on Thursday night, Cardinals fan Dave Huyette put himself in position to dart to his right, run onto Busch Stadium's grass-covered batter's eye and catch a potential game-winning homer.
In the bottom of the 11th, he got his chance and didn't miss it.
Huyette was the lucky fan who was able to retrieve David Freese's walk-off homer -- the one that gave the Cardinals an improbable 10-9 victory, forced a Game 7 and will forever go down as one of the greatest postseason moments.
"It happened so fast," Huyette said, "it was almost hard to remember."
Afterwards, Huyette gave the ball to Freese, exchanging it for an autographed bat, a team-signed ball and a picture with the World Series hero.
"It's an honorable thing to do, and it's a part of history," Huyette said. "I'm not looking to create any kind of a bidding war. I'm not in such need of the money where I want to do it."
This was one valuable piece of memorabilia Huyette was temporarily holding, though.
Freese's was just the fifth walk-off homer in a World Series Game 6 or later, and it was the capper to what was one of the greatest games in baseball history. Freese had tied it at 7 with a two-out, two-strike, two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth. Then, leading off against Mark Lowe in the bottom of the 11th, he hit a 3-2 changeup out of the park.
"I saw the usher trying to keep everybody off the grass," Freese said. "But that obviously didn't work."
Huyette was the first one to step over the railing and go into the grass, and barely two bounces after the ball landed, he had already corralled it, tumbled to the ground and held on for dear life.
To Huyette's surprise, there was no roughhousing in the center-field pile.
"One person patted me on the back and said, 'Don't sell it to anybody,'" said Huyette, who was attending his first World Series game with his friend, Cubs fan Jeremy Reiland.
"I think I tumbled into the grass, I saw the ball go right in front of me and nobody was even around it. So, I took my chances and plopped it into my [pocket]."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.