ST. LOUIS -- Boosted by the #FreesePlease campaign and likely from fame gained during his breakthrough 2011 postseason, David Freese is headed to his first All-Star Game as the National League's Final Vote winner.
Freese beat out Atlanta's Michael Bourn, Washington's Bryce Harper and Arizona's Aaron Hill in a record-setting Final Vote race that counted votes via an online ballot, text messaging and, in a first for the competition, Twitter. Freese received 8.4 million votes, 1 million more than the American League winner, Yu Darvish of the Rangers.
"What a crazy process," Freese said on Thursday, shortly after learning the news. "I'm happy. I'm thrilled. It's going to be great to join the other four [Cardinals All-Stars] and go to Kansas City. Obviously, thank you Cardinal Nation. What a crazy way to make an All-Star team. I can't imagine people running for president, what that can be like."
The Cardinals third baseman became the NL player to beat on Tuesday, as he moved atop the Final Vote ballot when Chipper Jones was named an injury replacement for Matt Kemp. Freese never relinquished the lead, becoming the first Cardinals player to win a Final Vote competition.
Freese's addition to the All-Star squad gives the Cardinals an NL-best five representatives. Joining him for Major League Baseball's 83rd All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City next Tuesday will be outfielder Carlos Beltran, shortstop Rafael Furcal, catcher Yadier Molina and starter Lance Lynn.
"[I'm] happy for him and for this fan base for reaching out and doing their part," said manager Mike Matheny. "They made this happen for him. He made it happen by putting together a solid season and everybody still remembering what October was like and how much he meant to that memory. You stack his numbers up, and he's deserving."
His numbers do, indeed, suggest as much. As of Thursday, Freese ranked second among all NL third basemen in hits (81), batting average (.285), home runs (13) and RBIs (50).
This marks the second time in three seasons that the Cardinals will send five players to the Midsummer Classic. The organization will be represented by three coaches (Derek Lilliquist, Jose Oquendo and Mark McGwire), former manager Tony La Russa and three coaches from the 2011 World Series championship club (Dave Duncan, Joe Pettini and Dave McKay).
Freese becomes the fourth third baseman on La Russa's roster. Pablo Sandoval won the fan vote, meaning that he will start for the NL team. David Wright and Jones also made the All-Star team at the position.
"I haven't thought much about being an All-Star," Freese said. "The chance that I get to play in Kansas City, play for Tony, see the 2011 coaching staff ... It's fitting. I'm just going to live it up. I'm going to sit back and watch the elite get after it, and if Tony calls my name, I'll get in the game and try to do my part."
The St. Louis-area native received voting support this week from a number of local public figures. Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Nelly and other members of the St. Lunatics, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, the St. Louis Blues and several of the city's athletes were among those who campaigned for Freese on Twitter.
"They had a lot of pull," Freese joked.
Freese also received a voting boost from joining forces with American League Final Vote candidate and White Sox starter Jake Peavy. Over the past three days, the Cardinals and White Sox encouraged their fan bases to reciprocate support on the Final Vote ballot. Peavy closed in on Darvish during the final day of voting but was unable to overtake him.
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.