On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans connected with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. The Cardinals’ epic Game 6 of the 2011 World Series -- the one where David Freese’s two-run triple tied the game in the ninth and his home run in the 11th sent the Fall Classic to Game 7 -- aired on cardinals.com.
“Opening Day at Home” also was an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
Game 6 of the 2011 World Series had a sloppy start, but it gave way to an all-time classic and minted a new October hero in St. Louis native Freese. But first, it’s important to remember the context of that season for the Cardinals when reliving this epic game.
On Sept. 5, 2011, the Cards were 10 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central -- a deep hole from which few teams ever emerge. But St. Louis turned a forgotten season into an improbable championship campaign.
The Cardinals went 16-5 the rest of the way to overtake the Braves. Twice on the brink of elimination in the NL Division Series, the Cards beat the 102-win Phillies to advance. Chris Carpenter won the decisive Game 5 with an epic 1-0 shutout against Phillies ace Roy Halladay. Then St. Louis upset Milwaukee in the NL Championship Series. Freese, in his first postseason, hit .545 in that series to claim the NLCS MVP Award.
The Cardinals met the Rangers in what would become a riveting World Series throughout all seven games. But Game 6 was simply unforgettable.
After three Cards errors -- including a popup that bounced off Freese’s head in the fifth -- helped the Rangers take a 7-5 lead, Freese came to the plate in the ninth inning with two on and two out. He lofted a game-tying triple off the right-field wall, the first of two times in Game 6 that the Cardinals were down to their final strike. After Josh Hamilton’s solo home run gave the Rangers the lead in the top of the 10th, Lance Berkman tied the game again with a two-out, two-strike single.
In the 11th, Freese won the game with a homer that forced Game 7, prompting Joe Buck to say, “We will see you tomorrow night.”
“I’ve had moments, even in normal games, where you’re more nervous than some bigger games,” Freese said last week, recalling Game 6 on Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight podcast. “But I just wasn’t that way. I think maybe the weeks leading up to it, and I know I was 0-for-3 [that night] ... but I was rolling for three weeks. And I just felt good. I’ll have moments where I’ll feel nervous and I don’t feel like I’m going to succeed, and this and that, but that just wasn’t one of those times.”
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and 2019 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.