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It’s official: St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols cranked out home runs 699 and 700 in the same game on Friday, guaranteeing that he would retire at the end of the current season having reached a milestone shared by only three other Major League Baseball players.
The veteran first-baseman, who returned to St. Louis for what he knew would be his final season, has been chasing 700 since Opening Day — and with just a few games left of regular season play, he made it happen in Los Angeles against the team he had played with just a season earlier.
ALBERT PUJOLS WITH HIS SECOND HOME RUN OF THE NIGHT HAS JOINED THE 700 HOME RUN CLUB!! FIRST BALLOT HALL OF FAMER!! pic.twitter.com/PKxxqujsjG
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) September 24, 2022
Pujols earned his first trip around the bases in the third inning off a two-strike fastball from Los Angeles left-hander Andrew Heaney. His second came just one inning later — off a hanging slider from right-hander Phil Bickford.
He was all smiles as he rounded the bases, and immediately bypassed several of his own teammates to plant a double high-five on fellow (retired) Dominican baseball legend Adrian Beltre.
The first person Albert Pujols embraced after hitting HR No. 700 was Adrián Beltré 🤝
What a moment for the two Dominican greats ❤️🇩🇴 pic.twitter.com/fCf4QDq9yL
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 24, 2022
Pujols shared hugs with teammates and Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright before taking a moment for himself in an empty hallway behind the dugout.
“My emotions came out,” Pujols said in Spanish.
Pujols noted that part of what made the milestone so meaningful was the fact that he had been able to hit his 700th at Dodger stadium — where his five children could be there to see it: “What a special night.”
“It’s pretty special. When it’s really gonna hit me is when I’m done, at the end of the season, when I’m retired, and probably a moment or two after that I can look at the numbers,” he said. “Look, don’t get me wrong, I know what my place is in this game. But since Day 1, when I made my debut, it was never about numbers, it was never about chasing numbers. It was always about winning championships and trying to get better in this game.”
“Souvenirs are for the fans,” Pujols said. “If they wanna keep it, they can. At the end of the day, I don’t focus on material stuff. I think I have the bat, the uniform, helmet, things that are special to me. At the end of the day, I think that’s why the fans come here — to have a special moment of history. So if they wanna keep that baseball, I don’t have any problem with that.”
Pujols also revealed that during the postgame celebration, his teammates loaded him into a laundry cart and soaked him with beer. “I struggled getting out,” he admitted.
“It’s amazing how God works,” Pujols said of the whole evening. “This could’ve happened last week in St. Louis, which probably would have been awesome. But to allow it to happen tonight, having my family and friends and people who really care and love me see me — it’s special to me.”
Pujols joins just three other Major League players — Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds — to record at least 700 home runs over the course of his career.