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Bon Voyage, Lance Berkman

Former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Lance Berkman announced Wednesday that he's done playing baseball.

Unfortunately, his knees made a similar pronouncement in early 2012.

Most people will probably remember Berkman as a member of the Houston Astros. But it sure was a lot of fun for us Redbird Rooters to watch him play in 2011, his one healthy season in St. Louis.

Not only was Berkman an important part of the World Series winners. But it was a breath of fresh air to watch one of the Cardinals most despised foes switch sides and become one of the area's most beloved performers.

Berkman admitted upon arrival that he hated to play against former St. Louis skipper Tony La Russa because of the La Russa's ultra-competitive game playing and over the top intensity. But he learned to love playing with him. Well, the same thing went for the relationship between the Big Puma and Cardinals fans.

He seemed so smug at the plate and and like he was always yipping at the Cardinals while he was on the bases. It wasn't until I got to see him play on a regular basis that I realized it wasn't just an act. Berkman wasn't smug. He was smiling because he loved to play the game and to compete.

If there was any doubt he was genuine it came during Game 6 of the 2011 World Series when he hit a two-strike, two-out, game-tying single. Berkman ran down to first base with nary a hint of a smile -- all business -- while Albert Pujols, David Freese and the rest of the Cardinals went nuts. He did his job because that's what he was supposed to do. No dance or self promotion required.

In the end, Berkman moved on without emotion. He knew his time here was done and found another job with the Texas rangers. But it was a mutually beneficial relationship because Berkman got his long sought after World Series ring, the Redbirds wouldn't have one with out him and the fans got their money's worth watching him play.