St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.
With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, 42-year-old Pujol joins Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.
A man wearing a blue Dodgers shirt with Hideo Nomo’s number 16 on his back dodges Homer’s 700th ball. He was swung down the stand as he held a black glove containing the historic souvenir ball to his chest. A long conversation ensued before the man was escorted out of Dodger Stadium, with 10 security personnel and in a waiting SUV.
Showing pop from his young, dominant days, 42-year-old Pujol hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth.
Cesar Soriano, a 37-year-old from Los Angeles, cracked No. 699. He turned the ball to safety after being asked to meet Pujols.
The Cardinals defeated the NL West Champion Dodgers 11–0.
It has been a remarkable and resurgent run for Pujols. It was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st season.
Until recently, many considered him a long shot to reach 700 this season. He went to bat .235 in August with only seven home runs.
But this evening he left his mark with two long shots.
Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first couple rows of the left-field pavilion, where his two-run shot touched left-hander Andrew Heaney’s previous innings.
He walked around the bases smiling all the way. After crossing the plate and pointing his fingers skyward, Pujol went on to greet fellow Dominican and former Dodgers star Adrian Beltre. They high-five through the protective net.
Then he went to the dugout of the Cardinals, hugging and congratulating every step of the way.
Pujols got a long standing ovation from the crowd – he ended up playing for the Dodgers last season. He raised a veil, lifting his hat in acknowledgment.
A crowd of 50,041 chanted “Pujols! Pujol!” They finally sat down on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.
His 700th homer also gave him some other good, goal numbers – he scored 500 home runs with the right-hander and 200 with the left-hander.
Pujol remained on deck for home run history as New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge joined twice in the same night. He remained on 60 homers, in a win at Yankee Stadium, just a short distance from tying Roger Maris’ AL mark of 61 in 1961.
Two goals from Pujols gave the Cardinals a 5-0 lead, with all runs courtesy his big bat.
The Cardinals extended their lead to 8-0 in fifth on Dylan Carlson’s RBI double and Lars Knutbar’s two-run homer. He added two more runs off Juan Yepez’s single shot in the seventh and Nutbar’s RBI single.
Pujols swung in his first at-bat against Heaney and was dismissed short in the sixth. He was replaced in eighth place by pinch-hitter Alec Burleson, who homed.
Jose Quintana (6-6) won. He smashed five hits and hit six in 6 2/3 innings. Haney (3-3) lost.
Pujols broke the tie with fourth-ranked Alex Rodriguez on the career list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on September 11.
The three-time NL MVP was batting .189 on July 4. But he began to trace his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in a 10-game stretch that helped St.
“I know that at the start of the year … I obviously wanted a better result,” Pujol said after a 1–0 win over the Chicago Cubs on August 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game gives you back.
“So I guess at the end of the day you have to stay positive and just stay focused and believe in your work. It’s something I’ve done all the time.”
Pujols has enjoyed a productive season since returning to St. Louis in March on a $2.5 million, one-year contract. This is his highest score since hitting 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.
He plans to retire at the end of the season.
Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.
The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 in each of his first 10 seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs. He helped the Cardinals win World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.
He set a career high in 2006 with 49 homers – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors in 2009 with 47 homers and topped the NL in 2010 with 42.
Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and scored 38 runs in 85 games.
Credit: www.marketwatch.com /