It was game 7 of the National League Championship Series. In 2004 Yadier Molina was a promising rookie. Albert Pujols was a rising star who was still a year away from winning the first of his three MVP Awards. In the other dugout was the Houston Astros, who were still part of the National League and were a force to be reckoned with back in the days of Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Carlos Beltran. 2 future managers, Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus were catchers in this series, sitting on opposite sides of the diamond.
The Cardinals had gone 105-57 that season, their best record since 1944. However, there was a very good chance that Houston, with fireballer Roger Clemens on the mound, was going to snatch the NL pennant.
The Astros were leading 2-1 by the 6th inning. Albert Pujols tied the game with an RBI double. The crowd was on their feet as third basemen Scott Rolen came up to the plate. Ausmus made a quick visit to the mound. Clemens, who already 42 years old, could still throw a fastball in the mid-90s. He tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball by Rolen. Rolen was ready for it. He smacked a line drive over the left field fence, just right of the foul pole. He circled the bases as Clemens paced with his head at the ground.
Rolen’s home run was all the Cardinals needed. They would tack on another insurance run and their pitching shutdown the Astros for the remaining three innings. St. Louis won its first National League pennant in 17 years and went on to play the Red Sox in the World Series.