Jared Tofil | Sports Writer
Entering the 2022 season, Albert Pulojs, a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer with 3 MVPs, 2 World Series, and multiple other awards, announced his retirement from the MLB onMarch 28. There was still one last feat to achieve before this time came; that 700 home runmark. An achievement that has only been obtained by three other players, Late Greats such asBabe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755), and controversial standout Barry Bonds (762).
At the start of the year, Albert Pujols had 679 home runs and only needed to get 21 more in a 162-game MLB season. Albert Pujols wasn’t worried about this, though, as his mind wasn’t on the numbers but just having a good and healthy final hurrah in the league. He was quoted saying to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, “I’m still going to retire, no matter whether I end up hitting 693, 696, 700, whatever. I don’t get caught up in numbers. If you were going to tell me 22 years ago that I would be this close, I would have told you that you’re freakin’ crazy. My career has been amazing.
”Albert, who has been an essential player for the St. Louis Cardinals’ success, decided that September 23, 2022, was the day he would hit that 700 mark. Only two homers away from themark in a game against the tough 104-46 Los Angeles Dodgers. In the 3rd inning, Albert hit number 699 off left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney, and the very next inning hit that historic number 700 to deep left off of right-hander Phil Bickford. Bickford, when he gave up the homerun, was very upset with himself but understood that this was a very special moment for theMLB and told reporters, “When the crowd reacted, seeing all the smiles, it was a very specialmoment for MLB, and Albert Pujols is also one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. After I got over being upset at giving up the home run, toward the very end of it, it was obviously aspecial moment.” Right after his home run trot, Albert went into the dugout tunnel and let out all his emotions. A very expected reaction for something this big in a career after 22 years and3,702 games of non-stop hard work.
The question is, did Albert Pujols get that important ball after the 11-0 win over the Dodgers? No, the fans decided to keep it. This was no problem for Pujols. “Souvenirs are for the fans. Idon’t have any problem if they want to keep it”Pujols said, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “If they want to give it back, that's great. But at the end of the day, I don't focus on material stuff.” Not only does he have the bat or the jersey he was wearing he can keep, but his name in the record books next to the number 700 should be just enough.