By Bob Cooney
We are about to say goodbye to one of the best players of his sport in our lifetime, and it feels like we hardly even know him. How is it possible? Maybe for the places he’s spent his career. Maybe for the humble way he’s carried himself throughout his 22 year career.
Now I can almost guarantee that there are still people listening to this who are not only big sports fans, but are racking their brains as to who I am talking about.
Maybe these numbers will help: 697 home runs which ranks fourth in the history of baseball. 3,369 base hits which puts him at No. 9 on the all-time list. His 684 doubles are better than all but four players who have ever played the game and his 2,199 runs batted in are only surpassed by Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.
And as good as all those numbers are, the way Albert Pujols has handled himself during this, his final season, has been just as impressive. Highlights each night don’t just include his chase for 700 career home runs, but of him taking the jersey off his back after a game in the dugout and giving it to a young fan who was holding a Pujols sign. Or the story of him allowing the fans – a husband and wife – in Pittsburgh who caught his home run that put him fourth on the all time list to keep the ball. When meeting them after the game, Pujols didn’t ask for the ball back. Instead, upon hearing that the woman who had the ball had lost her father exactly a year before, Pujols signed two more balls and gave them to the couple.
We are losing a treasure when it comes to the game of baseball, both on and off the field. It’s a shame the more of us weren’t paying as much attention as we should have.