In a fitting capstone to a Hall of Fame career, Albert Pujols on Friday hit his 700th home run as a major leaguer, a feat accomplished by three other sluggers in baseball history.
The milestone homer – Pujols’ second of the night – came in the fourth inning off Dodgers right-hander Phil Bickford, the latest of 455 different pitchers to give Pujols at least one homer over his 22 seasons MLB. .
Pujols joins Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in the 700-HR club, just 12 days after passing Alex Rodriguez (696) for fourth on the all-time home run list.
The Dodger Stadium crowd of 50,041 gave him a standing ovation when he came back from the dugout to acknowledge the cheers for his historic blast. Chants of “Al-bert, Al-bert” came from fans behind the Cardinals’ dugout.
“It’s very special,” Pujols said of reaching the milestone. Probably a month or two later look at the numbers. You know, don’t get me wrong. I know where my place stands in this game. ”
For him, Pujols said, he never played baseball about “chasing numbers.” But the numbers kept piling up.
The historic homer comes at the tail end of a late-career resurgence for Pujols, who returned to the St. Louis Cardinals this season at age 42 — after retiring as a free agent a decade earlier.
IN-WORLD GRAPHICS: A look back at the historic career of Albert Pujols
It was in St. Louis that Pujols rose from a little-known 13th-round draft pick to a superstar that included three National League MVP awards and a pair of World Series titles in his first 11 seasons.
After signing a 10-year, $254 million free agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels, Pujols hit 222 home runs over the next 10 seasons — plus 12 more in late 2021 after being released by the Angels and signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. .
But back in the familiar confines of Busch Stadium and in a Cardinals uniform, Pujols seems to have found the fountain of youth this year, posting his highest slugging percentage and OPS since leaving St. Louis in 2011.
Pujols came back earlier in Friday’s game off Dodgers starter Andrew Heaney, a two-run shot to left field that put the Cardinals up 2-0 in the top of the third inning. The home run gives Pujols 21 on the season.
The Cardinals won 11-0. Pujols finished his historic night 2-for-4, both home runs producing five RBI.
Before the game, after a video tribute to Pujols was played on both scoreboards in the outfield at Dodger Stadium, the fans gave Pujols a standing ovation. When given a chance to address the crowd before the game started, Pujols said: “Well, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you Dodgers fans.”
After the game, Pujols sat in front of his six children in the Dodgers’ interview room, courtesy of the team he played for last season when he retired to cheer for the game.
“A special night,” he said. “First of all, having my family here at home, and being able to do it here at Dodger Stadium.”
Adding: Josh Peter in Los Angeles
This article appeared on USA TODAY: Albert Pujols hits 700th career home run: Fourth man to join club