The City of St. Louis has had some tough losses when it comes to break-ups in sports.
In 2011, just after winning a World Series with the Cardinals, superstar Albert Pujols announces he’s heading to California. Can you blame him? $240 million over 10 years with the Angels. But his team in sunny California didn’t turn out so rainbows & butterflies for the slugger.
Of course the St. Louis Rams leaving for LA was also a major blow to the City, but I’m not going to dive into that today.
In May of 2021, the Angels released him. He just wasn’t performing like the Albert we knew and loved did “back in the day.” ESPN reports he was picked up by the LA Dodgers within the week, giving him new life.
I had a quick ray of hope, thinking maybe after the Angels released him he’d return to STL. Who knew that one year later, that dream would be coming true.
Pujols was always my favorite player growing up. My batting stance was based off of his. He was a man of faith, had great sportsmanship, and is a remarkable baseball player.
Ever since he left for California, I always wished he’d come back to St. Louis. I believed in the bottom of my heart he would end his career here. Whether it was a 1-game appearance just to retire as a Cardinal, or for one season, I knew he’d come back (and he did!).
His return has been “Amazing, remarkable, incredible” just like Dan McLaughlin said after Pujols’ 692nd home run in Arizona Saturday night. His second of the night while going 4-for-4!
I also remember the moments Albert & the Cards DIDN’T win. We may have 11 World Series Championships (2nd most all-time next to the Yankees), but we have plenty of heart-breaking losses we’ve had to endure. Years and years of frustration. “This is the year!” When really it wasn’t. Who remembers when the Boston Red Sox swept us?
Seeing him laughing with Yadi & Waino takes me back to my childhood. I remember clear as day watching the 2006 World Series in my West County, St. Louis home. We had some family friends over and we’d watch every game, every single night. The Cardinals won it all, we ran outside hooting and hollering, getting in our backyard hot tub and losing our minds. For some reason I remember eating Rocky Road ice-cream while watching the game. This was strange for me because I usually stuck to my Cookie Dough, but I digress.
Fast forward 16 years.
“IS THIS REAL?!” Yes, Dan, this is real. A historic finale to one of the greatest careers in Major League Baseball. A fairytale ending for one of the GOATs, in one of the greatest baseball cities in the world.
But the journey isn’t done yet. Albert is now reaching for 700 career home runs. With 42 games left in the season, it’s very likely he will reach that goal. With 5 more home runs, Pujols will pass A-Rod to hop into the 4th all-time.
It was an incredible sight to see Albert in-person at Busch Stadium on June 12, 2022. Embedded here is a link to my video I posted on Twitter, of Pujols hitting a ground-rule double to center field… right in front of where I was sitting!
Each time he stepped up to the plate, I took my phone out because *if* anything were to happen, I wanted to have it on my phone forever. Luck was on my side that day.
As a baseball fan, you have to love this story. As a Cardinals fan, this may be the best tale we could ask for.
Thank you, Albert.