David Freese, whose heroics in the 2011 postseason led the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series title, has decided after “an extreme amount of thought” to decline an invitation to join the team’s Hall of Fame, he announced Saturday.

“This is something that I have given an extreme amount of thought to, humbly, even before the voting process began,” Freese said in a statement. “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. …

“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.”

Freese was World Series MVP and NLCS MVP, driving in 21 runs during the 2011 postseason to set an MLB record. In the World Series, he hit .348 with seven RBIs, three doubles and an epic Game 6 home run that kept the Cardinals alive in the series against the Texas Rangers.

Overall, he spent five of his 11 MLB seasons in St. Louis after entering the majors in 2009. He was an All-Star selection in 2012. Including stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates, Freese was a career .277 hitter when he retired after the 2019 season. He was even better in the postseason, with a .299 average.

“I look at who I was during my tenure, and that weighs heavily on me,” said Freese, who was the the top vote-getter for induction into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in online balloting by fans. “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.”

The Cardinals were down to their last out against the Rangers in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. In the bottom of the ninth, with the Cardinals trailing 7-5 and facing closer Neftali Feliz, Freese hit a two-out, two-run triple to right field to send the game into extra innings.

On his next at-bat, in the 11th inning, Freese cemented his hero status with a leadoff home run off Mark Lowe to force a decisive Game 7, which St. Louis won 6-2 aided by a game-tying two-run double by Freese.

Freese was born in Texas, but he grew up in the St. Louis suburbs and rooted for the Cardinals. He said that he would continue to remain around the Cardinals’ organization, participating in alumni activities and fan-related events.

“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,” Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III said in a statement. “He is always welcome at Busch Stadium.”

Jose Oquendo and Max Lanier will be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame on Aug. 20.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.