Pujol's Hits 700

Pujols Hits 700

In Articles by Carter Brooks

Keeping his red-hot streak alive, Pujols became just the fourth player ever to join the 700-club (Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth).  

Albert Pujols has seemingly forever been a household name in professional baseball. A menacing figure at 6-foot-3 who tips the scales at 240 pounds, the long-time first and third baseman of the St. Louis Cardinals recently returned to the team where it all began 20-some-odd years ago.  

Having announced that the 2022 Major League Baseball season would be his last, the 42-year-old product of the Dominican Republic found himself in uncharted territory entering his 22nd year in the show.  

Beginning his storied and soon-to-be Hall of Fame career with the Cardinals, Pujols experienced immediate success in St. Louis. Eleven seasons in Missouri saw the 2001 Rookie of the Year award winner appear in nine all-star games, and earning three most valuable player awards in the process.  

While in St. Louis, Pujols created the Pujols Family Foundation – a national not-for-profit agency that exists ‘to honour God and strengthen families through work, deed and example’. Beginning the foundation in 2005, PFF has taken countless strides towards improving life for those living with Down Syndrome, while also working towards bettering the lives of those living in poverty in the Dominican Republic. 

Even after Pujols left town, the foundation continued its work. Some might even say it thrived knowing Pujols’ contributions and charity work remained – although coming from afar. 

“It was never about the uniform he wore,” PFF executive director Todd Perry said of Pujols in a 2019 interview with MLB.com. “It was never about who he played for, or if he played baseball at all. This was about the authenticity of having a child with Down Syndrome, understanding the gaps and holes in services, and knowing he could do something about it.” 

As a first-time free agent in 2011, Pujols hit the open market and ultimately chose the Los Angeles Angels, where he played out his 10-year, $254 million contract in style. That style, however, and Pujols’ plate success slowly began to wane as the deal wore on.  

By 2021, the Angels made the ultimate decision to let their star go, designating the 40-year-old for assignment, to which he cleared waivers and signed a one-year contract with the nearby Los Angeles Dodgers a week later. Pujols found success once again in L.A., but was not offered a contract renewal following the 2021 season.  

Announcing the 2022 season would be his last, Pujols returned to St. Louis on March 28, beginning what he hoped to be an enjoyable campaign at his old stomping grounds of Busch Stadium. But for Pujols, it was a tale of two seasons. For the third-straight year he held the title of ‘the oldest player in the league’ and dutifully put that designation to the test.  

I’m the grandpa in the clubhouse,” he laughed, shortly into his deal that marked his return to St. Louis. “I’m having a great time.” 

The year did not begin well for the 11-time all-star. His batting average dropping to just .189 by July 4, but Pujols pulled a quick 180 through the later parts of July. He then went 9/16 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in a seven-day stretch through mid-August, before hitting his 64th career multi-home run game on August 20.  

“He looks the same as when he left to me,” Cardinals’ lifer Adam Wainwright said amid Pujols’ dominant month of August. “This is what he’s supposed to look like, here, in this stadium, doing these things.” 

That August 20 game also marked the date to which Pujols passed Stan Musial for second place on the MLB’s all-time list of total bases earned. In fact, he has brought his average up over .450 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 19 games played, while helping St. Louis to a stretch of 17 wins its last 21 outings.  

“I feel really good to tell you the truth,’’ Pujols told USA Today prior to the August 20 game. “I really didn’t know what I could do, but I know I put in a lot of hard work with the gift the Lord has given me. I didn’t know what the year would look like, but what I could control was dedication and hard work.”  

Earlier this year, Pujols snuffed out rumours that he’d consider playing another year if he didn’t get homer No. 700. “I’m still going to retire, no matter whether I end up hitting 693, 696, 700, whatever, I don’t get caught up in numbers. If you were going to tell me 22 years ago that I would be this close, I would have told you that you’re freakin’ crazy. My career has been amazing.” 

With only a handful of games left in his MLB career, Pujols clearly knows the importance of what’s left at stake for his personal stat-line, but his main objective remains the Cardinals’ push for the postseason – much like it was back in the early-2000s. 

“I took obviously a lot less money and less promises,’’ Pujols said in his conversation with USA Today. “But this is where I want to be. This is where I wanted to finish my last year, and thank God He allowed me to have this door open to come here to finish my career.” 

Carter Brooks
Carter Brooks is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favorite pastime.
Carter Brooks
Carter Brooks is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favorite pastime.