LOS ANGELES (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th home run Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to mark the milestone in Major history League reached.
A man wearing a blue Dodgers shirt with Hideo Nomo’s number 16 on the back, gasped for the 700th homer. He was flanked out of Dodger Stadium by 10 security personnel in a waiting SUV.
The 42-year old Pujols showed the pop from his younger, dominant days, hitting number 699 in the third inning, then launched number 700 in the fourth.
With the drive in the closing days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homeruns), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.
It was a remarkable and resurgent run for Pujols. This was his 14th homerun since early August for the NL Central leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.
Pujols’ historic homerun was a three-run shot against Phil Bickford, the Dodgers reliever. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left field pavilion, the same location where his two-run shot hit lefthander Andrew Heaney the previous inning.
He jogged around the bases all the time, smiling. After crossing the plate and pointing his fingers at the sky, Pujols turned to his fellow Dominican and former Dodgers star Adrian Beltre. They gave a high-five through the protective mesh.
Then he went to the Cardinals’ dugout, where he was given hugs and congratulations every step of the way.
Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished last season playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call and raised his cap in confirmation.
The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujol!” They finally sat down after being on their feet while waiting to see the history.
His 700th home run also gave him some other nice, round numbers – he’s hit 500 home runs on right-handers and 200 on left-handers.
Pujols connected twice on the same night with New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge who remained on deck for home run history. He stayed on 60 home runs, just short of Roger Maris’ AL 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 from his big bat.
He struckout in his first at bat against Heaney and grounded out to short in the sixth.
Pujols broke a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on September 11.
Reaching 700 home runs looked like an opportunity for Pujols when he hit .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his way in August, hitting seven home runs in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis win away in the division race.
“I know that early in the year…I obviously wanted better results,” said Pujols after taking a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on August 22. “But I felt like I hit the ball hard. Sometimes this game will take more from you than the game gives you back.
“So I think in the end you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something I’ve always done.”
Pujols has had a productive season after returning to St. Louis in March on a $2.5 million one-year contract. It is his highest total since hitting 23 home runs for the Angels in 2019.
He plans to retire when the season is over.
Pujols also started his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur game and won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2001.
The native of the Dominican Republic hit at least .300 with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals win World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.
He set a career high with 49 home runs in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 home runs. He led the majors with 47 home runs in 2009 and led the NL with 42 in 2010.
Pujols left St. Louis at large in December 2011, signing a $240 million contract with the Angels for 10 years. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 home runs and netted 38 runs in 85 games.