MLB

Cardinals' Albert Pujols becomes 4th player in MLB history to hit 700 home runs

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.

42-year-old slugger joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in exclusive club

The Cardinals' Albert Pujols celebrates after hitting his 700th career home run during the fourth inning against Los Angeles on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. (Ashley Landis/The Associated Press)

Albert Pujols seemed like a long shot in early August to reach 700 home runs, still more than a dozen swings from the hallowed mark and his power stroke all but gone.

Or so it appeared.

Now showing the pop of his youth in the final weeks of his career, the 42-year-old slugger got there with two long shots.

Pujols hit his 700th home run, connecting for his second drive of the game and becoming the fourth player in major league history to make it to the milestone as the St. Louis Cardinals routed the hometown Los Angeles Dodgers 11-0 Friday night.

Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball's most exclusive clubs.

"Don't get me wrong, I know where my places stand in this game, but since Day 1 when I made my debut, I was never about numbers, never about chasing numbers," Pujols said. "It was always about winning championships and tried to get better in these games."

A man wearing a blue Dodgers shirt with Hideo Nomo's No. 16 on the back snagged the 700th homer ball. He was whisked under the stands as he clutched a black glove containing the historic souvenir ball to his chest. Prolonged negotiations went on before the man was escorted out of Dodger Stadium flanked by 10 security personnel and into a waiting SUV.

This is like the Mount Rushmore of sluggers, so to reach that 700-home run mark, it's remarkable.— Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on the Cardinals' Albert Pujols

"Souvenirs are for the fans," Pujols said. "I don't have any problem if they want to keep it. That's why the fans come here, to have a special moment of history."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gladly gushed about Pujols' accomplishment.

"This is like the Mount Rushmore of sluggers, so to reach that 700-home run mark, it's remarkable," Roberts said.

A 37-year-old Los Angeles man, Cesar Soriano, snagged No. 699. He turned the ball over to security after being told he could meet Pujols.

It's been a remarkable and resurgent run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the National League Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Roberts marvelled at the improbability in July of Pujols making history in late September.

"I wouldn't doubt him, but the stars seem to kind of have to align for it to play out like this," Roberts said. "I don't think Albert even thought it was a possibility."

Now, no one needs to wonder whether Pujols would've come back for a few extra swings next year had he finished this season at 699 or so.

Pujols took extra pleasure in making his mark at Dodger Stadium, where he said he regained his joy for the game while with the Dodgers last season.

"It's pretty special, especially with the Dodgers fans, to do it here," Pujols said. "And, you get to see both sides, they get to enjoy this and to do it in a Cardinals uniform is really special."

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, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hits his 700th career home run during the fourth inning on Friday night at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

"At first, I was upset … and then when the crowd reacted and seen all the smiles, it was a very special moment for MLB," Bickford said. "Albert Pujols is one of the most amazing people I've ever met."

He jogged around the bases smiling all the way. After crossing the plate and pointing his fingers skyward, Pujols went over to greet fellow Dominican and former Dodgers star Adrian Beltre. They high-fived through the protective netting.

Then he was off to the Cardinals dugout, getting hugs and congratulations every step of the way.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd, took a curtain call and raised his cap in acknowledgment.

The crowd of 50,041 chanted "Pujols! Pujols!" They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols' 700th homer gave him a couple of other nice, round numbers, too — he has hit 500 home runs off right-handers and 200 off lefties.

His achievement was celebrated beyond Chavez Ravine.

At Chase Field in Phoenix, the San Francisco Giants were meeting on the mound when the 700th homer was shown on the videoboard, prompting veteran third baseman Evan Longoria to applaud, along with the Diamondbacks' crowd.

At Target Field in Minneapolis, Shohei Ohtani pitched the Los Angeles Angels to a win and then said through an interpreter: "I'm really glad he got to 700. … It was an honour to be a teammate of his. He's raking this year, so it feels like he's got a lot more left in the tank."

Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez tweeted about his fellow star from the Dominican: "You are the man!!"

Pujols connected twice on the same night New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge remained on deck for home run history. He remained at 60 homers, just short of tying Roger Maris' American League mark of 61 in 1961, in a win at Yankee Stadium.

Pujols' two bops gave the Cardinals a 5-0 lead, with all the runs coming courtesy of his big bat.

Found hitting stroke in August

Pujols struck out swinging in his first at-bat against Heaney and grounded out to short in the sixth. He was replaced in the eighth by pinch-hitter Alec Burleson, who homered.

He snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the career list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Batting .189 on July 4, Pujols started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

Pujols has enjoyed a productive season after returning to St. Louis in March for a one-year, $2.5-million US contract. It's his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

Pujols 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.

He has hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBI in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

Pujols set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 — one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a 10-year contract with the Angels worth $240 million. He was waived by the team in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.

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