All-Star Week Helped Start Albert Pujol’s Farewell Tour

When Albert Pujols stepped into the batter’s box in the first round home run derby on Monday and in his only at-bat in All-Star Game on Tuesday, he did so to audience applause at Dodger Stadium.

Fans paid homage to Pujols’ greatness. Designated hitter and first baseman for St. Louis Cardinals has 685 home runs, 3,333 hits, 1,889 runs scored and 2,170 RBIs in a career that ends after this season. The 42-year-old is the 2001 National League Rookie of the Year, 11-time All-Star, three-time MVP, six-time Silver Slugger winner, two-time Golden Glove Award winner and two-time World Series champion. lock for the Hall of Fame.

It was a career that Pujols said he was lucky to have. To many in baseball, he meant far more than his numbers.

“He will always have a legacy in this game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, a friend of Pujols and his manager, said last season, when he played 85 games for Los Angeles. “One part of that obviously is the back of his baseball card… but I think the more important part is that he is from the Dominican Republic and sets the standard for Latino players that they can thrive in this game on and off the field. . .”

Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias said, “He’s the player who has influenced me the most. By his behavior every day, he shows you how to be a professional, how to control yourself in some aspects that you cannot control.

Added Angels outfielder Mike Troutwho spent 10 years playing with the Pujols after Pujols left the Cardinals after the 2011 season: “You know, what he did for the game means a lot to baseball.”

What happened when Pujols took a break before the last 30 seconds of the first round in the home run derby gave a clearer, if brief, picture of the impact he had on baseball.

St.  Albert Pujols of the Louis Cardinals competes in a home run derby at Dodger Stadium.

St. Albert Pujols of the Louis Cardinals competes in a home run derby at Dodger Stadium on Monday.

(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Instead of just his usual friends coming out to talk to him at halftime, the entire All-Stars roster, seated in both dugouts, stood up to greet Pujols. It wasn’t planned. It was just a feeling that all players should pay their respects to the person invited to the All-Star Game as part of the Commissioner’s Legends Selection.

“It was pretty emotional,” Pujols said of the moment. “I tried to hide it because as an athlete I still have to get on the field and compete, but to be honest, this is probably going to be one of the best moments of my career because it’s just something special.”

Pujols won’t leave the game simply as one of the best who ever played it. He is an icon who knows that off the pitch he has been and will be a mentor to other players from the Dominican Republic and beyond; whose non-profit Pujols Family Foundation has served people with Down syndrome and the poor in his home country for many years.

Many players in the early months of the season called for a farewell tour. Recognition started slowly, but everything seemed to be in full swing at All-Star Week.

The Cardinals don’t go to Anaheim, but play at Dodger Stadium in late September. Roberts said the team will have some sort of celebration for the Pujols.

For now, Pujols said he will continue to do what he has done for the past 22 years: put his team first and try to help them win – the Cardinals resume play on Friday after half a game away from first place in the National League Central and tie for the final. wildcard – and the entire load of emotions of his entire career will probably fall on him in the last week of the regular season.