ST. LOUIS — This weekend's series between the Cardinals and Angels isn't just a reunion for St. Louis fans and Albert Pujols. It's a reunion for two of the the most popular Cardinals of all-time, back where they became legends.
Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina developed a brotherly relationship during their time together in St. Louis, and with the Angels finally in town the two good friends have been able to reconnect back at the site of some of their fondest memories.
"We've been waiting for many years and I'm glad he's finally here," Molina said. "He deserves a big, big, really big... I know I'm going to take a really good time walking to the mound. It's going to be the loudest five minutes they've ever heard."
It was more like a minute and a half long ovation during Pujols' first at-bat at Busch Stadium as an Angel, but you could feel the love.
Pujols and Molina even exchanged a hug at home plate before Pujols stepped in against Michael Wacha.
"We're like brothers, and when you see your buddy having this time, it's going to be emotional. I hope to take it strongly, but we'll see what happens," Molina said of Pujols' imminent first at-bat before the game.
Both Molina and Pujols are excited to share the special weekend with Cardinals fans.
"It's going to be a great weekend. Hopefully we sweep those guys and win the three games and then it'll be the best weekend of my life," Molina laughed.
Before Friday's game, the two traded compliments and hugs.
"I remember Yadi's mom and dad telling me, 'I give you my younger son, and treat him like your little brother', and that's how he's been to me," Pujols said of Molina.
"He's a good man. He teaches you like a real man. Just a great human being," Molina said of Pujols. "He taught me a lot of things on the field and off the field and I'm glad to be his little brother."
Pujols, a sure fire first ballot hall of famer, even went out of his way to say how his good friend should one day join him in Cooperstown when they're both retired.
"For me when he's done and retired he's probably going to be the best catcher that's ever played this game," Pujols said of Molina. "He was a leader because he wanted to learn. The way he went at it day in and day out."
"He reminded me a little bit of myself because he asked a lot of questions to me and to guys around and I was the same way too. And he asked those questions because he wants to get better," Pujols said. "Look where he's at. When he gets done he's a future hall of famer. I'm proud and blessed to have played with him and have the success we had together and to have him as my little brother."
For most of the time when Albert was in St. Louis, Molina was just the quiet, steady defensive stalwart. Now, he's blossomed into the de facto leader for the Cardinals, thanks in part to lessons he learned from Pujols.
"There are a bunch of guys that teach you the right way to go about it and I'm trying to pass it down and be a good leader for the young kids," Molina said.
Even though Molina and Pujols have spent the last eight years apart, their friendship has transcended team allegiance.
"I think the best thing you accomplish is the relationships you build. Nobody can take that away from you," Pujols said. "That's more important to me than anything I've accomplished."