Freese batted .397 in the postseason while setting records for most RBIs (21) and total bases (50) and tying the marks for hits (25) and doubles (eight). When he watched the World Series DVD—he was the main celebrity at its premier, of course—Freese noticed something about himself. "I was smiling the whole postseason," he says. "It's fun to play this game, and that's what I've got to keep remembering."
Freese had never faced Texas closer Neftali Feliz until the Cardinals were down to their last out in Game 6, down by two runs with two on. "Be me," Freese told himself as he walked to the plate. "Don't try to do too much. Try to keep the inning going. That's all I'm worried about."
Feliz threw two sliders, one for a ball and one for a strike, before unleashing a 98-mph fastball that Freese, late with his swing, fouled off. The Rangers had St. Louis down to its last strike (as Texas would again in the 10th, when it had a 9--8 lead). Only the '86 Red Sox had ever lost the World Series after being one strike away from winning it.
"I didn't realize it was that hard," Freese says of Feliz's heater. "He flat out blew it by me. 'Get ready earlier.' That's the first thing I told myself: 'It's probably coming again.' I was fortunate that he left it out, over, just about the same spot, I found the barrel...."
Freese drove the ball toward Texas rightfielder Nelson Cruz. "I took about four steps," Freese says, "and had the feeling I'm about to chuck my helmet because he's going to catch it." But Cruz was playing too shallow to protect against a ball over his head. The ball banged off the bottom of the wall and away from Cruz, allowing the game to be tied and Freese to reach third.
Two innings later Freese won the game with his walk-off, a blast to dead center leading off the bottom of the 11th against Mark Lowe. "Man, I was running in the clouds," Freese says. "I was looking around, and I told myself, Soak this in. Do not forget this moment. Obviously it's spotty, all the memories of that moment, but when I rounded second base I thought of my teammates, and I was like, This is going to be the best feeling in the world when I get to home plate."
This was why baseball called him back—the camaraderie and the competition. After the greatest night of his baseball life there was no other place to go, of course, but back to Kriegshauser's couch. Asked how he slept that night, Freese laughed and said, "I didn't. I came back trying to figure out what happened, and then [Kriegshauser] and some other knuckleheads show up. We just kind of hung out and relived it and had a good time. Next thing you know, it's the morning. I took off, went to my place for a little bit, caught about 45 minutes of sleep before Game 7. You're so jacked up for Game 7 of the World Series you don't need any sleep."
After Texas opened the game with two runs, Freese smashed a two-run double in the bottom of the first, the first of six unanswered runs as St. Louis won 6--2. One of the greatest months of postseason hitting was complete—as was the streak of spending a month on Kriegshauser's couch. "That night I finally stayed in my place," Freese says. "I think I owned my place for two months, and that I was the first night I stayed there, so it was good to be home. I slept well. I slept really well."