Albert Pujols was recognized along with Yadier Molina before the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers played their series opener at Dodger Stadium, and he then went on to make MLB history by reaching 700 career home runs.
The 22-year-veteran entered the game on Friday with 698 home runs and 11 games left to play in his final Major League season. In the third inning, Pujols hit career homer No. 699 with a two-run shot off Andrew Heaney.
The following inning, Pujols reached the historic milestone with his second off the day, taking Phil Bickford deep. Pujols became just the fourth player in MLB history to hit 700 home runs in his career, joining Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).
Pujols spent part of the 2021 season with the Dodgers and became a beloved figure in the clubhouse and with the fanbase, so it was a special moment for him reach the mark at Dodger Stadium.
But it may have been a bittersweet feeling for Hanser Alberto. Although he never played with Pujols, Alberto is a native of the Dominican Republic, just like the 11-time All-Star, and was hoping he would be the one to give up that 700th home run, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:
“I hope he hits 700 against me. That’s the dream. … That would be fun.”
Although Alberto is an infielder by trade, he has already set and extended the Major League record with nine pitching appearances this season by a position player.
Alberto did end up pitching in the game Pujols hit his 700th home run and allowed a long ball, but it came off the bat of Alec Burleson.
Alberto made his pitching debut for the Baltimore Orioles in 2019 and he also took the mound in one game for the Kansas City Royals. He has thrown 10 innings this season with a 3.60 ERA, 6.71 FIP and 1.20 WHIP while batting .225/.235/.344 with a 60 wRC+ and making appearances at every position other than catcher, center field and left field.
While the Dodgers ended up losing the game in a blowout and Alberto didn’t get to see his hope become a reality, he walked into the press conference area while Pujols was speaking about his achievement.
Albert Pujols appreciated time with Dodgers
Pujols hit 12 of his 700 career home runs with the Dodgers last season, but perhaps more importantly, his time in L.A. helped convince him to play one more season. “The love for the game, that never went away,” Pujols said.
“Getting the opportunity to be in the postseason with an amazing organization and seeing how they go about it every day, the preparation, was pretty special. It kind of changed my mind. I thought about retirement last year. Obviously, the DH made a difference this year, but really having that opportunity, being a few games away from the World Series, was pretty special.
“And just the relationships I built with some of those young players and the veteran guys that were there, that I already had but it just grew stronger. Talking about J.T. (Justin Turner), (Max) Muncy, David Price, Mookie (Betts), guys like that, who have been around the game for so long. And then you build a relationship with Will (Smith), Gavin Lux, Barnesy (Austin Barnes) and all the other guys.
“Like I said, at the end of the day, the respect that they showed was pretty special. You play this game for so long, and that’s what you take with you, is those memories. I’m blessed to have that opportunity. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to be able to play with them for five and a half months.”
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