ST. LOUIS, JAN. 14 -- The St. Louis Cardinals announced today they have signed free agent first baseman Bob Horner to a one-year contract.

Horner played with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League last season. The Cardinals are hoping Horner, 30, their first major free-agent acquisition since the signing of Darrell Porter in 1980, can fill the void left by Jack Clark, who departed for the Yankees last week.

Horner's contract calls for a base salary of $950,000 and incentives totaling about $500,000.

"It's been a dream of mine to play for the Cardinals," said Horner, who failed to reach agreement with the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves before signing with the National League champions.

In nine major league seasons, Horner, who is 6 feet 1 and 215 pounds, has a career batting average of .278 with 215 homers. In 1986 with the Braves, he hit .273 with 27 home runs and 87 runs batted in.

Cardinals General Manager Dal Maxvill said Manager Whitey Herzog was fully supportive of signing Horner. After the Clark deal, Herzog reportedly said he was not interested in Horner.

Horner said he spoke to Herzog Wednesday night and was reassured by the conversation.

"Hearing what he had to say, I was very convinced he wanted me," Horner said. "All I wanted was a high sign he would be happy to have me on this team, and I got that."