ST. LOUIS – Having Albert Pujols back with the St. Louis Cardinals this season has been a treat for fans, but just how well number five has been playing is a bonus.

“It’s been the biggest surprise, I think that St. Louis could have had,” said James Vitale. “We never expected it to be what it’s turned out to be, which is unbelievable. And with him and Yadi and Adam, it’s all great.”

On Sunday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones declared Tuesday, Oct. 5, as Albert Pujols Day, noting the passion, dedication, sportsmanship, and love for the game that the soon-to-be retired player has.

Cardinals fans can’t stop raving about him. There is even a tribute along eastbound Interstate 44 that has been anonymously maintained by a fan of number five.

“I think since Stan Musial, I think he was a guy who really brought the region together as far as a baseball club,” Jim Schutzenhoer, a Cardinals fan.

Schutzenhoer said winning is what Pujols came home to do.

“Rather than selling t-shirts, I think the guy was sincere in helping the club win games,” he said.

Schutzehoer’s friend, Tom Kilduff, grew up a Yankees fan, but he embraced the Cardinals when he moved to St. Louis.

“I got to see Albert’s first 11 years here. And it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in baseball before,” Kilduff said.

Kilduff said he was upset when Pujols headed for California, but said he understood the decision.

“When he came back, I don’t think anybody expected what happened this year. You couldn’t. It’s crazy,” he said.

Longtime fan Betty Lerhrman was thrilled by Pujol’s chase to 700 home runs and beyond. She said she’ll miss him on the field next year.

“He represented the city really well, and he made an impression with all the other players. They loved him,” Lerhrman said.