I remember where I was for a lot of the great Cardinal moments in my lifetime.

I was in my dorm room, the fourth floor of the Illinois Street Residences at the University of Illinois, in 2004 when Jim Edmonds hit the walk-off home run in Game 6 of the NLCS.

Game 1 of the World Series that same year - not a great memory for Cardinals fans, but the first Cardinals World Series game of my lifetime - was also the day of my Dad's wedding.

I paced in front of the TV in my tiny apartment in Champaign for most of the 2005 NLCS. That included Albert's mammoth shot over the train tracks in Game 5.

Endy Chavez robbing Scott Rolen of a home run has to be the among the greatest catches in postseason history. Yadi, who never hits home runs, going deep in the top of the ninth. Waino striking out Beltran on the most perfect curveball ever. Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS was the best baseball game I thought I'd ever see. I watched it from my house in Urbana.

I watched Game 6 of the 2011 World Series - the greatest game I've ever seen - from right field.

Before this postseason, I'd never been to a playoff game. My first was Game 3 of the NLDS, the Ben Francisco game. And in the blink of an eye, Game 6 of the World Series had a chance to be the last playoff game of the season.

I knew I had to appreciate it while it lasted; there's no telling if, or when, I'd ever get to do something like this again. So I took pictures. And I wrote messages with my finger in the infield dirt. And I just tried to take it all in as well.

When Lance Berkman hit the two-run home run in the first inning I remember thinking it was the loudest I'd ever heard Busch Stadium. Ever.

Just as quickly, the Rangers silenced it. Scoring and answering would become a theme.

Bad baseball followed. Throwing errors, fielding errors, drops. Matt Holliday had probably the worst game of his career. It got so bad that when David Freese dropped a pop fly leading off the fifth inning I wasn't even surprised. It was that kind of game.

And it was a shame. Mistakes threatened to turn what should have been an exciting game into a laugher. Jaime wasn't sharp from the start, and suddenly the game had lost all momentum.

"Really, this was an ugly game for about six or seven innings," Berkman said, "and then it got beautiful in a hurry right at the end. But there was a lot of things that you could look at and say, that's not good baseball."

In the bottom of the eighth, Allen Craig hit what felt like a meaningless solo home run that cut the lead to 7-5. Still work to do, still a long way to go before the middle of the order comes up again.

But then Molina singled. Then Descalso. Then Jay. And all of the sudden, the Cardinals had something going. Although they didn't score, it was mission: accomplished. Pujols was going to bat again before the night was over. Hope.

When Ryan Theriot struck out to lead off the ninth the game felt over for the second time. When David Freese got two strikes on him I turned off my computer. Then, for the first time, he drove one.

Being in the right field auxiliary press boxes, the right field corner is the only part of the park you can't see. Off the bat I thought it might be a home run. Watching Cruz, my heart sank as I realized it was playable. Watching Cruz reach for the ball and fall short, I knew the game was tied.

Wide-eyed, I looked over at the box next to me. Both had all-but-emptied in anticipation of a Rangers celebration four floors lower. I knew the few remainders, who are part of the Cardinals PR staff. They were ecstatic. All I could do was shrug back. It was my best attempt at explaining what had just happened.

That's the loudest I've ever heard Busch.

With Feliz shaken, I half expected Yadi to end the game right there. He didn't.

Josh Hamilton, who has been playing with an unplayable groin injury all series, couldn't possibly have a poor man's Kirk Gibson moment in the 10th inning. He did.

And just like that the game was over for the third time.

Descalso, Jay and the pitcher's spot against Darren Oliver was as sure a thing as you could hope for if you were the Rangers. But Descalso, who hit .190 against lefties this year, battled and lined a hit to right. Then Jay, who had all of zero hits in this World Series before Thursday, dropped one in.

Here come the Cardinals. Kyle Lohse miraculously pushed a bunt past a charging Adrian Beltre to advance the runners. And more than the potential for Theriot to do anything, the sacrifice meant Pujols would get to bat one more time.

Except it wasn't in Pujols' hands. Four fingers. Berkman would be the one to decide it. And with two strikes, the game was over for a fourth time. Except it wasn't. Again.

I looked around at those left in the auxiliary boxes. What just happened? And how?

That's the loudest I've ever heard Busch.

Jake Westbrook pitched the 11th. You got the feeling at some point the Cardinals needed to put up a zero. They couldn't keep chasing the Rangers for much longer. Westbrook got Cruz, and on a 2-0 count Napoli singled. Just singled. Moral victory. There's the zero.

Looking up at the scoreboard, I knew there was potential for David Freese to end the game. I didn't call it. I didn't even expect it. But I knew it could happen.

"I was worried about getting on base, leading off an inning, taking a walk, breaking a bat, single, whatever," Freese said, "and full count came, and I knew he had a good changeup. So I kind of had that in the back of my head. But sitting here, he threw a changeup, he shook to the changeup, and I got the head [of the bat] out."

When it left the bat, everybody in the park knew it was gone. It couldn't not be gone. A flyout to the warning track isn't dramatic. Especially given what we found out after the game.

"I've never had a walk-off home run in my life," Freese said. "Ever. I've never met my team at home plate. I felt like doing the Deion dance."

That's the loudest I've ever heard Busch.

I'll always remember where I was for the greatest game I've ever seen.

I was there.


SHARE: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (3)| RSS comment feed | | |

# JKemlage05
Friday, October 28, 2011 5:33 AM
Though I am in England for this semester, and having lived in St. Louis all my life, I feel like I was there last night, having read this fantastic account of last night's WS Game 6. Very well put, Nathan. Thank you for this!!
DJ Gelner
# DJ Gelner
Friday, October 28, 2011 8:57 AM
Great work Nate--amazing stuff!
Chris Reed
# Chris Reed
Friday, October 28, 2011 9:45 AM
Like Freese, you knocked it out of the park.

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.