On Wednesday Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman/designated hitter and former St. Louis Cardinals great Albert Pujols whacked his 521st career home run. The round-tripper tied Pujols with Ted Williams, Willie McCovery, and Frank Thomas at 521 career home runs for 18th all-time. It was one of the moments that will never be for Cardinals fans. It also brought to mind a homer from long ago.
Fourteen years and three days prior, rookie Albert Pujols started in right field for the Cards against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. He had one year in the minors under his belt and manager Tony La Russa was singing the praises of his versatility in the field. As Pujols dug in against Armando Reynoso, the announcers discussed his utility—even mentioning that he could play shortstop!—then the rookie uncorked his first career home run. The video:
I miss swings like that and the emphatic home runs they produced. Cardinaldom may not have the Pujols that is and we may be fortunate not to have the albatross that is his contract on payroll, but we'll always have the Pujols that was—the player who put together one of the greatest first eleven years of a career in the history of the game. I'm thankful for that.
Tonight is the fifth night of the season, the Cards' third off-day and fourth off-night. This is the open After Dark thread. Feel free to discuss the teams that are playing ball tonight or whatever other subjects you please. Keep in the VEB Community Guidelines in mind.