Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Stepping up and showing humility in a big-league sort of way



Sam Houston is a syndicated columnist and newspaper executive. He is also an author, playwright, actor, and entertainment producer/promoter.

Many of you may remember the name David Freese. A native Texan born in Corpus Christi, David had one of the most memorable and historic World Series games in history in 2011 playing for St. Louis against our Texas Rangers. In game six, with Texas leading 7-5, and leading the series by 3 games to 2, Freese came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with two out and two men on base. With a two-strike count, Freese hit a two-run double to tie the game and send it to extra innings. In the 11th inning of the same game, and again with two strikes, Freese hit a game-winning walk-off solo home run to center field and sent the World Series to a seventh game — which the Cardinals won, capturing their 11th World Series title. For his efforts Freese was named the World Series Most Valuable Player.

Freese went on to have a successful career. With a career batting average of 277, he was voted to the all-star team, played with the Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Since retirement from the game, he has made his home in Austin.

Baseball in St. Louis is like a religion. It is hard to go to a restaurant, store, or bar within a 100-mile radius of the stadium, where the ball game is not playing on a radio or TV. For generations, families and friends have planned their vacations around a trip to the ballpark to catch the Cardinals play a game. The supporters are fanatical, and players are idolized. At the conclusion of their playing days, the best of the best become part of team history by being voted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Unlike some such entities, the Cardinals Hall of Fame is voted on by the fans and not solely by the sportswriters nor simply selected by the ownership of the team. Hence, the men who are enshrined have a special place in the history of the team and the hearts of the fans. The list of players includes all-time baseball greats like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Joe Medwick, and Rogers Hornsby.

The past few weeks an election was held, and the fans of St. Louis cast their votes. When the results were announced, David Freese had been selected to join the other legendary Cardinal players in the Hall.

Now comes the most amazing “at bat” David Freese will ever have. On Saturday, June 17, it was announced that he turned down the honor of admission in the Hall!

David grew up in suburban St. Louis and like all his friends and neighbors, loved and worshiped the Cardinals. When he was young, he wore the number 45 like his hero Bob Gibson. The greatest thrill of his life was to take the field wearing the Cardinal uniform, representing the city and the legacy of the players who came before him.

So why did he refuse to accept the honor of joining the Hall? Simply put, he did not think his performances and credentials were worthy of being included with the players he would join in the Hall. He did not feel deserving. While he thanked the fans for their devotion and support, he felt his inclusion would diminish the accomplishments of those who had gone before him.

David announced, “The Cardinals and the entire city have always had my back in every way. I’m forever grateful to be part of such an amazing organization and fan base, then, now, and in the future.” In short, Freese told the Cardinals that while he was honored and humbled by the fans, he simply did not feel deserving.

In today’s world of “it is all about me,” and where some professional athletes seem to care little about anything other than recognition, ego fulfillment, and money, David Freese stands alone. He is a shining example of humility and respect for the game he loves. In my book, he should be voted into the human being Hall of Fame, on the first ballot.

Thought for the day: true humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

Until next time…. I will keep ridin’ the storm out.