Albert Pujols returns to St. Louis for one last season with the Cardinals : NPR

    after more than 10 years, albert pujols is back in st. louis in his no. 5 uniform. kicked off its 22nd opening day when the Cardinals took on the pirates. the cardinals won 9-0.

    His return to the Cardinals was announced just as spring training was wrapping up in Florida. he returns as designated hitter, a new position in the national league this year.

    Reading: Albert pujols to st louis

    The homecoming was an especially joyous event for the fans, whose enthusiastic response showed that any resentment over Pujols’ departure from the team in 2011 is water under the bridge at this point.

    When Pujols joined the team in 2001, he made an immediate impact, says Derrick Goold, the Cardinals Beat lead writer for St. louis after dispatch.

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    “He burst onto the scene during spring training in 2001, worked his way up the team and then went and won rookie of the year,” Goold said. “and from there he launched into a career where he was the best right-handed hitter of his generation. the best right-handed hitter the cardinals had seen since rogers hornsby in the 1920s, before the integration of baseball, and the best hitter that the cardinals had had. since one of the best hitters of them all in stan ‘the man’ musial.”

    Pujols was a three-time MVP and a four-time MVP finalist. He won two World Series with the Cardinals, in 2006 and 2011. But after the 2011 championship, Pujols left St. Louis for a $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

    His departure was not an easy time for everyone.

    “It was hard to see him go anywhere else because of the idea that he could be one of the greatest cardinals of all time,” said Tom Ackerman, sports director for Kmox Radio in St. luis “and maybe, if he did his entire career at st. louis, he could outshine all the numbers set by the greatest cardinal of all time, stan musial. he would go down in history on that caliber.”

    While pujols was a leader on the team, he also made an impact off the field with his pujols family foundation to help children and their families living with down syndrome as well as helping communities in the Dominican Republic.

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    “The closest thing to his heart [is] down syndrome, with a child who has down syndrome. It meant a lot to him,” Ackerman said. “He was incredibly kind. A man of faith. He was well respected by a lot of people in the St. Louis area. He had the city basically in love with him from the beginning, really, and throughout that decade.” /p>

    That work off the field is what made some of his fans love him even more. Quinn Mortimore of Springfield, Mo., has been a Cardinals fan for as long as he can remember. his first trip to st. louis for a game was when he was 10 years old. Pujols was in the starting lineup, and Mortimore said he was “watching the circle on deck all night, seeing every time he was about to show up.”

    “Pujols, he was the lord of baseball for me for the first half decade that I was watching,” Mortimore said. “Then I learned more about him, about his family, what he did for the community, and that made me like him even more as a player and as a person.”

    The love for Pujols didn’t end when he signed his 10-year contract with the Angels.

    by the time he got back to st. Louis in 2019, he was still playing for Los Angeles, but received a standing ovation from Cardinals fans when she stepped up to the plate and another when he homered later that weekend.

    At the time, Pujols said the welcome almost brought tears to his eyes. he was welcomed back when he visited st. Louis with the Los Angeles Dodgers. this season, you can probably expect a lot more of that enthusiasm, goold said.

    “It’s going to border on magic, and if it pulls a magic trick, it’s going to shake the center,” Goold said.

    although it is a bittersweet moment. Pujols said when he signed the contract that this will be his last season. The same is true for his good friend, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, and it could also be the end for pitcher Adam Wainwright.

    but until that day comes, st. Louis is celebrating the return of one of his greats and is hoping for a little magic this season.

    The audio story was produced by alejandra márquez janse and edited by patrick jarenwattananon.

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