Los Angeles- The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to sign 42 year old Albert Pujols to a one year deal for $2.5 million. It will reunite him with former teammates Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. That trio was the driving force in three National League pennants and two world series for a franchise that ranks second only to the Yankees in championships. More so it will bring back a bigger than life hero to the city who has had its share of great players over the history of baseball.
Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, he later moved with his father to Kansas City at age 16. He was drafted out of Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City Missouri in 1999 by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round. The 402 pick overall. Two years later at 21 years old, he played 161 games for the major league Cardinals where he batted .329 with 37 HR and 130 RBIs. Making him the unanimous pick as the 2001 rookie of the year. Not bad for the number 402 pick in the draft in his third year of professional baseball.
Over the next 11 years, 12 overall, he never hit less than 30 HRs in St Louis. He has gone on to hit 679 as of this date along with 3301 hits and 2150 RBIs. And just like the great Henry Aaron, without ever hitting 50 HRs in a season. That my friends is the ultimate in consistency. He is called La Maquina (The Machine) for that reason. He will be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee when he retires. His baseball accomplishments absolutely assures that.
But what makes this man special? What is the reason for every young kid growing up in today’s world today to look to this giant of a man as a hero? Especially in the Latin American community. The reason is that he has done bigger than life things off the field as well as on the field.
He is a devoted father of five. A proud loyal husband to his wife Deidre. His Pujols Family Foundation (pujolsfamilyfoundation.org) has helped thousands here and around the world. He was named the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award winner in recognition of his outstanding play on the field and tireless work in the community. His $70,000 award went toward The Albert Pujols Wellness Center for Adults with Down Syndrome at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, MO which opened in 2009.
His lists of charitable works goes on and on. He is a very special man and a hero to many who have benefited from his kindness. He is a role model for young people all over the world.
Yes the Cardinals of St. Louis will welcome him back with open arms. One day they will erect a bigger than life statue to him outside their stadium along with all the other greats from their storied franchise. It would be a mistake not to do that. But with or without it he will, as he should, always be a bigger than life hero to all.
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