When Albert Pujols makes his first plate appearance for the Angels on Friday evening, it will be the first time the surefire Hall of Famer has played at Busch Stadium since the 2011 World Series. He helped Midwest kids of the 2000’s fall in love with the game and reignited a passion in lifelong Cardinals fans after a title drought of longer than two decades. His jersey is still worn by many loyal game attendees and hangs in the closet of so many others, while his posters still line walls.
It’s undeniable that Pujols will forever remain stitched in the franchise’s history, and this weekend presents us a special opportunity to relive our memories of one of the best Major League Baseball players ever.
first 13th-round pick back in 1999, nobody had quite this big of a picture painted for the Maple Woods Community College swinger. Just two years after being drafted, Pujols was playing for the Cardinals. He was the unanimous National League Rookie of the Year in 2001 and just getting started on an 11-year reign in St. Louis.
Pujols was at the center of two World Series titles for the club, in 2006 and 2011, and was the MVP of 2004 NLCS - though the Red Sox ended a title drought of their own that fall. Pujols earned league MVP honors in 2005, 2008, and 2009 and was an All-Star nine times, including for eight straight seasons from 2003 to 2010. In 1,705 games with the Cardinals, Pujols batted .328 with 445 home runs. He had more than 170 hits in every season and average more 40 long balls annually. Pujols was on base all the time; his on-base percentage was above .410 in eight seasons and under .400 only twice. His lowest OPS+ for a season was 148 (not a typo), and he drew 975 walks compared to 704 strikeouts.
There are many moments that stand out from Pujols’ career with the Cardinals. He hit the first home run at the new Busch Stadium. He was the first National League player to hit three homers in a World Series game, reached 2,000 hits, and infamously derailed the career of Astros closer Brad Lidge.
What Pujols memory is your favorite? For me, it’s the three homers against the Rangers in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series. Pujols drove in six of the Cardinals’ 16 runs in the game after they scored a total of four in the first two contests. The win put the Cardinals up, 2-1, in the series. I’d love to hear what you all consider your favorite memory, especially if it’s not a popular one. Feel free to share with us as a FanPost for VEB. We will feature our favorite entries on the main site.
I’m so glad he will get to play one more time in front of the city who watched him grow and knew he was destined for glowing achievements from the beginning. And you should be too.
Video is credited to the official St. Louis Cardinals YouTube channel.