Albert Pujols' ninth-inning at-bat at Busch Stadium was a celebration of a legend
This weekend's series between the Angels and Cardinals was, more than anything else, a celebration of Albert Pujols. The Angels first baseman was back in St. Louis for the first time since he led the team to a World Series in 2011.
Even though the three-time MVP and 10-time All-Star was playing for the opposing team, Cardinals fans spent all three games making Pujols feel right at home. Given how rarely the Angels get a chance to visit St. Louis, Sunday's game was likely Pujols' final game in his former home ballpark. From the very first at-bat, you knew it was going to be a special evening:
With the possibility that his at-bat in the seventh inning would be his last, Pujols took a moment to let it all sink in and was all smiles as he got love from the crowd.
Albert Pujols is all smiles in St. Louis 😄 pic.twitter.com/7XoQBRxNeW— ESPN (@espn) June 24, 2019
That left a tough act to follow when the Angels' offense brought him back to the plate in the ninth inning. After popping out to first, Pujols enjoyed a warm embrace with his long-time teammate and friend Yadier Molina on his way back to the dugout.
But the real treat came moments later when the crowd called him out of the dugout for a curtain call. We're not crying. You're the one crying.
A hug.— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 24, 2019
A curtain call.
Albert Pujols' last at-bat was special! pic.twitter.com/cHadTzL6CA
After the game, Pujols and Molina came together again. This time to exchange the jerseys they wore in what will likely be their last game on the same field.
Yadi and Albert exchanged jerseys after the game! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/2ZpRibrk2v— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 24, 2019
There is no completely satisfying way to say goodbye to someone you've known and loved for years. But, on Sunday night, Pujols and St. Louis may have come close to finding one.
Eric Chesterton is a writer for MLB.com. He is an appreciator of the stolen base, the bunt against the shift and nearly every unconventional uniform design. He eagerly awaits Jamie Moyer's inevitable comeback.