Albert Pujols returned to St. Louis for the first time since leaving as a free agent to sign with the Angeles. There wasn’t a dry eye in Busch Stadium.
Albert Pujols was back in Busch Stadium for the first time since 2011 and he received a loud, prolonged, emotional ovation from the Cardinals fans in attendance. Pujols was the best Cardinals player since Stan Musial and beloved by the fans for the 11 years he was with St. Louis. He’s won a pair of World Series championships, MVP’s, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers and countless All-Star teams, but he’ll never forget the reception he got from his old fans.
“Just pretty amazing,” Pujols said, via ESPN. “That’ll show you why they are the best fans in baseball. I’m just glad to be able to play here for 11 years, have the great memories.”
Pujols knew it would be an emotional moment when he stepped foot in the batter’s box. He’s one of the most prepared hitters of all time, but I’m not sure anything could have prepared him for his homecoming on Friday night.
The embrace between Pujols and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is one that likely gave Cardinals fans everywhere goosebumps and tears streaming down their cheeks.
“I was pretty close from dropping a couple tears there, I think, especially when I hugged Yadi,” Pujols said. “We had that little moment to ourselves right there.”
This is what sports are all about. I’m a Cubs fan, so I’m supposed to despise Pujols and the Cardinals. He inflicted so much sports pain over 11 years as a member of the Cards and stole a MVP from Derrek Lee in 2005 that I’m still not over. However, this moment is perfectly genuine and a first-class show of love, respect and admiration from the fans to Pujols and from Pujols to Cardinals fans.
“This is an incredible moment for me tonight, and it’s something I’m gonna put it right up there with the accomplishment of winning the World Series twice here,” Pujols said. “Because this was a pretty special night, not just for me. For my wife, my five beautiful kids to have part of that, and all my friends too. It’s very special.”
The future Hall of Famer still has two more games in Busch Stadium vs. his old team this weekend. Then, that’ll likely be it for Pujols who is winding down his career. Barring a meeting in the postseason, the next two days are the last time to see Pujols in his old home.