If Friday night was Matt Holliday‘s last game in a Cardinal uniform, it was a storybook ending for the slugger.
The St. Louis Cardinals activated Matt Holliday from the disabled list on Friday, not because he was ready to contribute to the team, but to give him a chance to say goodbye to Cardinal fans. The Cardinals decided against picking up his 2017 option, meaning that the former batting champion’s career is likely over in St. Louis. Holliday would have been due $17 million, and with continuous injuries that kept him off the field, John Mozeliak had to do what is best for the organization.
Holliday would not speak to the media on the organization’s decision, but released a letter to Cardinal fans thanking them for their support.
"“It has been an honor to play in front of such great fans and for such a historic organization. I can honestly say it has been a dream come true.” – Holliday on playing in St. Louis"
Since arriving to St. Louis in 2009 at the trade deadline, Holliday has been one of the club’s most productive players. When paired with former Cardinal first basemen Albert Pujols, the team had one of the best middle-of-the-order duos in baseball, and in 2011 it resulted in a World Series championship.
After Pujols’ departure in 2012, Holliday stepped up as a leader and helped replace the production Albert left behind on the field, which ultimately led to the Cardinals winning the National League pennant in 2013. During his time in St. Louis, Holliday was an All-Star four times, and was awarded a Silver Slugger Award in 2010.
The Cardinals had no intention of throwing Holliday into the game on his first day back from the disabled list and with a possible playoff spot on the line. However, with the team up 5-0 in the seventh inning against the Pirates, Mike Matheny sent Holliday to the plate to pinch hit. He was greeted with an overwhelming standing ovation from the fans in Busch Stadium and struggled to hold back his emotions as he approached the batter’s box.
On the third pitch of the at-bat, Holliday was able to bid farewell to Cardinal fans in unbelievable fashion, as he drove the ball over the right field fence for a solo home run. Fans continued their ovation until Matt came out of the dugout and granted their request for a curtain call while wiping the tears from his face with his jersey.
With Aledmys Diaz‘s emotional home run for his fallen friend Jose Fernandez and Yadier Molina‘s walk-off double earlier this week, you can add this Matt Holliday home run to the list of moments that could possibly spark a long playoff run.
With the crazy things that have happened this week, who knows what could happen come October.