ST. LOUIS — David Freese swooped in, expecting Elvis Andrus to bunt. He did, but the ball trickled wide of the line.
The St. Louis third baseman scooped up the foul, scanned the crowd and spotted his target sitting near the Texas dugout: a man in the front row wearing a Rangers jacket, with a glove.
Freese flipped him the souvenir, drawing a big smile and making yet another friend in his hometown.
Then again, why not? There was plenty to share in this World Series.
A Game 6 that ranked among baseball’s greatest thrillers. A three-homer performance by Albert Pujols that rivals the best in postseason history. Ron Washington running in place, Tony La Russa reacting in dismay at a ball that got away. Everyone learning how to chant Nap-Oh-Lee!
Oh, and a Rally Squirrel on the scoreboard and a telephone mix-up in the bullpen.
“I told you it was going to be a great series – and it was,” Texas slugger Josh Hamilton said.
Hamilton put Texas ahead with an RBI double in the first inning Friday night in Game 7. Freese and the Cardinals, however, would not be denied. A night after twice rallying when it was one strike from elimination, St. Louis came back to win the championship with a 6-2 victory.
“Now that we’ve won it, it makes yesterday greater,” La Russa said.
Said Hamilton: “It was actually fun to watch and fun to see. You hate it, but it happened.”
An October for fans to cherish, for sure. A lot of them tuned in: The clincher drew the most viewers for a baseball game since Boston won in 2004, and boosted overall television ratings 19 percent higher than last year’s World Series between Texas and San Francisco.
Even before the opener, many observers predicted this Series would be a dud because it lacked big-market teams. Minus the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies, some said, it would attract little attention.
Inning by inning, it got more intriguing.
“I know there’s been a lot of conversation about ratings,” Commissioner Bud Selig said before Game 7. “Some of it, in my opinion ... was misinformed.”