Yes, this is another Albert Pujols article. But can you blame me. I don’t think there’s been a cooler baseball moment in my life. And I’ve been alive for two World Series triumphs.
J.P. gave us all a great read yesterday on the anatomy of Pujols’s 700th home run. Definitely give that a read if you haven’t already. Now I want to take a moment and reflect on my favorite moments of Pujols’s career. There’s nothing like watching history to make you reminisce on everything.
And for me, I truly do mean everything. Almost my entire life has overlapped with Pujols’s MLB career. I turned 23 earlier this month and this is Albert’s 22nd year in the majors. He’s been playing for as long as I can remember and he’s been my favorite player for as long as I can remember.
For me, I can’t remember a cooler baseball experience. Ever.
It got me thinking about all the other cool things we’ve seen from Albert over the years. Here are a few of my favorites.
#3 - 2011 World Series Game 3
The Pujols Game. 3 home runs in a game on the biggest stage. Joining Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as members of this exclusive club. This game had everything. Everything, that is, if you were a Cardinals fan and a Pujols fan.
This is as close to unstoppable as I’ve ever seen a player be.
He finished the game 5-for-6 and finished the series with 6 hits overall. This was his moment, though. He took over the game en route to a 16-7 win. The rest of the series was the story of the rest of the team.
That doesn’t mean Pujols was absent, though. He was intentionally walked 4 more times, including 3 times in Game 5. That’s called respect.
#2 - 2005 NLCS Game 5
This is the train tracks home run. The one off Brad Lidge against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Full disclosure, I was 6 at the time. But I’ve seen this highlight a million times.
This is an absolute bomb. And I will forever love Minute Main park for all it’s wackiness. I love the train tracks. I love the mound out in center field. It’s this uniqueness that gave Pujols the setting for what has to be one of the most iconic moments of his career.
The home run couldn’t prevent the Cardinals from losing the series, but they would be back with a vengeance the following year.
#1 - 700
Does anything beat watching your favorite player of all time become the 4th player to ever reach 700 homers? My answer is no. This isn’t just my favorite Pujols moment. This is my favorite baseball moment. World Series titles are great but those happen, and they happen quite often for the St. Louis Cardinals relative to other teams.
Bonds. Aaron. Ruth. Pujols. Nothing beats that. When I was growing up, Pujols was the guy. My baseball fandom grew up watching him terrorize pitchers.
Watching him club #700 was special and I don’t know if I’ll ever see a baseball moment that tops that.
It’s more than just 700 that made Saturday night special. It’s the fact that 699 came the same night.
A few days prior, I remember talking to my wife and remarking how 700 might be the hardest home run because when he’s sitting at 699 he’ll be trying to hit every pitch for a home run.
I can only imagine how difficult it would be to sit at the precipice of history and know you might not reach it. That might cause anyone to swing for the fences on every pitch. I can see how that would make a hitter struggle.
Except it didn’t bother Albert. He sat at 699 for one at-bat. That’s greatness. Nothing bothers him. He is simply immune to pressure. I doubted him at the beginning of the season, but this is why you should never doubt greatness.
Pujols may have been gone for a while but the magic never left. I simply forgot about it. I’ve never been happier to be reminded of it in my life.
That’s all I’ve got today Viva El Birdos. I couldn’t let this historic moment pass without some kind of reflection about my favorite player ever. Moments like this are the beauty of baseball. Is there any other sport this romantic?
There are so many more moments I could have listed. All of Pujols’s Buddy Walk games come to mind. He always showed up for those. I’m pretty sure there were plenty of other 3 home run games too.
I almost added his homecoming in 2019 to this list. Pujols left St. Louis when I was 12. It was magical to watch him play when I was growing up, but I really got the chance to appreciate everything more fully when he finally came back to St. Louis for the first time in 7 years. That was a nostalgic series.
Now, I want to hear from you, VEB. What are your favorite moments of Pujols’s career. I’m sure there’s plenty to choose from and plenty that I won’t even remember. But I want to hear them all because there’s no better to way to celebrate the moment than to celebrate all the little moments that led to it.
As always, thanks for reading! I’m glad I’ve been able to be hear to write and interact with all of you in what might just be my favorite Cardinals season ever. Here’s hoping it lasts as long as possible.