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Former major leaguer David Freese has declined his election into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, the club announced on Saturday. Freese, now 40, was the top choice in the recent round of fan balloting to determine the next class of Cardinals Hall of Famers. The club has granted Freese's request, and the upcoming class will now consist of Jose Oquendo and Max Lanier. 

In making the decision, Freese release the following statement through the club: 

"This is something that I have given an extreme amount of thought to, humbly, even before the voting process began. I am aware of the impact I had helping the team bring great memories to the city I grew up in, including the 11th championship, but this honor means more to me. 

"I look at who I was during my tenure, and that weighs heavily on me. 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. I'm especially sorry to the fans that took the time to cast their votes. Cardinal Nation is basically the reason why I've unfortunately waited so long for this decision and made it more of a headache for so many people. I feel strongly about my decision and understand how people might feel about this. I get it. I'll wear it. Thank you for always being there for me, and I am excited to be around the Cardinals as we move forward."

In that same statement, Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said: 

"Although we are disappointed that David has declined to be inducted into our Hall of Fame, we respect his decision and look forward to celebrating his great Cardinals career in other ways going forward. He is always welcome at Busch Stadium."

The statement notes that Freese "plans to remain an active member of the team's alumni activities and fan-related events."

Freese, who grew up and went to high school in the St. Louis area, spent the first five seasons of his big-league career with the Cardinals. Over those five seasons, he batted .286/.356/.427 with 44 home runs and 81 doubles in 466 games as a primary third baseman. Freese, however, is best remembered for his legendary performance in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. In the ninth with the Cardinals down 3-2 in the series down to their final strike, tied the game with a two-run triple. Then in the 11th inning, he won the game on a walk-off home run. The Cardinals went to prevail in Game 7 and win the World Series for the 11th time in franchise history. 

Following the 2013 season, Freese was traded to the Angels. He retired after spending the 2019 season with the Dodgers.