Will Albert Pujols catch Babe Ruth in the all-time home run records?
With only 21 games left in the St Louis Cardinals’ baseball season, all eyes should be on Albert Pujols. We may never see such a player again.
Albert Pujols is a great hitter. Truly, an all-time great. There is no denying that. And he is also a good guy. Of that, too, there is no doubt.
When the 11-time All-Star, 3-time MVP, and 2-time World Series champion 21-year veteran slugger took De Jong deep to right-center field, passing Alex Rodriguez to take sole possession of the number four spot on the career home run list, the team approached the fan who caught the ball to try and get it back.
Taking a few minutes to speak to Matt Brown and his wife Samantha, Pujols learned that Sunday was one year to the day since Samantha’s father had died. Rather than trade a few autographs for the record-setting ball, Pujols decided to tell the fans to keep it.
“It’s just a baseball. They deserve to have it. It went out of the ballpark. We play this game for the fans. I think it means for that girl more than me having it in my trophy case,” said the 42-year old Dominican legend.
He also signed a pair of baseballs to add to the game ball for the couple to remember the occasion.
With only 21 games to play in the regular season, Pujols is almost certain to top 700 career home runs, which would make him only the fourth player to ever break that ceiling. Trailing Babe Ruth’s historic 714 by only 17 dingers, there is, however, very little chance that he will catch the Bambino this season.
Coming into 2022, Pujols was adamant that this would be his last season, no matter what happened, so it would seem as near to a certainty as there is that he will finish up his major league career as the number four all-time home run hitter.
But what a career it has been. His 18 home runs this season have been phenomenal, all things considered. After spending the last decade on the west coast, first with the Angels and then with the Dodgers, Pujols signed with the Cardinals for the 2022 season so that he could go out with the team where he had done his biggest, most legacy-making work.
One by one, the records started falling. First he went over the 3000 games played mark, then climbed to number five on that list, then he passed Paul Molitor to become number ten on the base hit list. The Cardinals fans are more than happy to get behind Albert, as are the club. If he decides to play next season, it will be to the sound of rapturous applause.
“There’s impressive, and then there’s unbelievable,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “And what we’re witnessing right now is absolutely legendary.”
And whatever St Louis is doing right now, it is paying off for them. The Cardinals are currently sitting atop the NL Central, and have as good a shot as any to make a deep run into October. There is no doubt that another contract would be made available to The Machine if he wanted it for 2023. That would guarantee him the number three spot, and possibly even allow him to pass Hank Aaron for the number two position. But Albert doesn’t seem to care about the record. He seems to be playing because he still loves it, and still believes that he can add something to the team.
Selfishly, as a fan, I would love to see Albert go on for another year. But also, as a man, I respect his decision to decide for himself when he is done, whenever that may be. If this is the last of Albert Pujols in a major league uniform, then I for one will be watching every game that he plays in. Like Reverend Sykes’ gesture to Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, we should all stand and recognize that a legend is passing.