ST. LOUIS -- All throughout this season, Albert Pujols has insisted that his 22nd and final MLB season is more about production and success for the Cardinals than some nostalgic farewell tour.
As further proof of that statement, Pujols is not only going to the MLB All-Star Game next week as an honorary pick of Commissioner Rob Manfred, but he will also be a competitor in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. Pujols, MLB’s oldest player at 42 years old, made the announcement on Monday night not long after moving into third place in Major League history with his 1,378th career extra-base hit in a 6-1 win over the Phillies at Busch Stadium.
Pujols, who ranks fifth in MLB history with 684 home runs, will be competing in the fifth Home Run Derby of his illustrious career. He will go into the event with the most home runs of anyone to ever compete, topping the 681 that Barry Bonds had in 2004 when he last competed in the Derby.
“I’m thoroughly blessed to be able to do it and I hope that I can put on a good show for the fans,” said Pujols, who has yet to decide who will pitch to him during the event. “I’m just going to try to have fun like I always have in that event and try to put on a good show. I’ll represent a lot of players and fans, and hopefully, I can put on a good show for them and have fun. When they asked me about it, I was excited about it and feel honored to be able to do it.”
Pujols hit the 684th home run of his career in the Cardinals' 4-3 defeat of the Phillies on Sunday. On Monday, he missed his 685th home run by a matter of inches when his drive into the right-field corner hit off the top of the wall. He settled for a double, moving him past Cardinal legend Stan Musial and into sole possession of third place on the all-time list for extra-base hits. In the history of the game, only Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds have more extra-base hits than Pujols.
Pujols will be joined in the Home Run Derby by Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr., Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber and Mets slugger Pete Alonso -- a two-time Home Run Derby champion. Pujols participated in the event in 2003, '07 and '09 while playing for the Cardinals, as well as in '15 while with the Angels. He has never won the event, but he did reach the finals in '03, finishing as the runner-up to Garret Anderson.
“I’m excited and pumped up about it,” Pujols said. “It’s an honor just to be back in the All-Star Game. To have a chance to be a part of the Home Run Derby, too, that’s something I always enjoy, and my kids will have a blast.
“Spending most of my time there [with the Dodgers] last year, I think the fans there will look forward to that event. I just hope I can put on a good show for them. At the end of the day, this [Home Run Derby] is not about us; it’s about putting on a good show for the fans. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed about it. This will be my fifth trip -- and my last one -- but I’m excited. My kids and family, too, are very excited to be a part of it.”
Tickets are now on sale for all the 2022 All-Star Week events. Visit allstargame.com/tickets to find out how you can attend the events in person.