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Cardinals of Yore: Roger Freed

On this day in 1946 Roger Freed, who enjoyed a brief yet spectacular time with the Cardinals, was born in Los Angeles, Calif.

Freed, who broke into the majors in 1970 with the Orioles, bounced around to the Phillies, Reds and Expos for several years before landing with St. Louis in 1977 after he was plucked by the Cardinals from the Montreal minor league system in the Rule 5 draft. He played sparingly as a reserve first baseman and a pinch hitter for the Cardinals. But like an earlier day Daniel Descalso, Freed had a knack for coming through late in games in do or die situations.

A career .245 hitter, Freed batted .306 in his 135 games with the Cardinals over three seasons with nine homers and 49 RBIs. His most spectacular season with St. Louis came in 1977 when found himself hitting .402 with one game to play. With a contest against the Mets on the line and the pitcher's spot due up in the bottom of the ninth Freed pinch hit and grounded out to fall to .398 for the year.

Fans and teammates seemed to care less about Freed missing the .400 mark than they credited him for sacrificing personal statistics for his team -- even in a meaningless game. His greatest single moment  -- and the thing Cardinals fans remember Freed for -- came on May 1, 1979 when he hit a walk-off grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning against the Astros.

Freed remained a popular player with St. Louis fans following the end of his major league career in spring trainging prior to the 1980 season. He received loud ovations at old timers games held on the hot artificial turf of Busch Stadium II.

Sadly, he died in 1996 at the age of 49 due to heart disease.