ST. LOUIS — Albert Pujols added to his St. Louis legend on Tuesday as only Albert Pujols could. After a rousing ovation in his first at-bat back in St. Louis as a Dodger, he deposited a J.A. Happ pitch into the left field stands. Classic Pujols.
The master of ceremonies, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, did his duty by stepping in front of the plate so fans could salute their Cardinals hero before he stepped in. Before giving his buddy Albert a hug of course.
"I told him, 'Bro, don't do that every at-bat. First at-bat is fine, but just let's play baseball you know.' You know Yadi, he's like my little brother," Pujols said after the game. "He respects the history, he respects the game and he respects the fans. I think that's something that he's aware of and just a little moment in the first inning and then my last three at-bats also. I really appreciate my time here with great memories and that was something I was always going to share forever with these fans and this city."
But did Pujols get the chance to soak everything in as he was rounding the bases?
"Not really. It's just hard. Trust me, you think about things, but when it happens you just let it happen as part of the game. At the end of the day my goal is to do my job and go out there, play defense whenever I'm going to play, embrace the moment but try not to get caught up too much in what's happening. That's something I love to do since day one when I came up to the big leagues," Pujols said. "It's something that probably next week I'm going to think about it more. That's how it happened in 2019 after I hit my home run it was like a week later seeing my highlights, seeing my video. I was able to kind of embrace it and enjoy it more than when it happened at that moment. And I'm sure that's how I'm going to take this one also."
Pujols and Molina had some more fun later in the game when Molina got a base hit and shared first base with his former Cardinals teammate of eight seasons.
"He was grinning so hard because he thought I was telling Souza (the right fielder) to throw the ball to first base. I would never do that to him. I was just messing with him," Pujols said. "Yadi's like my little brother, we help each other so much when we played together. Even right now he studies my swing, I study his swing... At the end of the day it goes way beyond what we have accomplished together when we were teammates. It goes beyond that in our relationship. It's just unbelievable and that's something that nobody can take away from us. And that's the legacy you want to leave behind when you hang the jersey... to be able to have a great relationship off the field with your teammates. That's something with him, with Wainwright and with some of the guys... Trouty (Mike Trout) is gonna be part of that."
It was another classic night for Pujols in St. Louis, and there's still two more to go until he leaves town once again. But coming back to Busch Stadium is something that will always be special for Pujols.
"Nothing is easy. I still have a bit of emotion but you have to control that. You can't erase 11 years of what I've done for this city and what this city means to me and the fans. It's something that's pretty special. Definitely you get a little emotion but you're able to control it," Pujols said.