Pujols gives fan the jersey off his back before returning to St. Louis

St. Louis Cardinals
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — An adorable moment involving Albert Pujols was captured on camera Tuesday evening. He gave one fan the jersey off his back. The kind act isn’t even close to the kindest thing this slugger has done for kids. His foundation for children with Down Syndrome and life-threatening illnesses was started in 2005. It has been active in St. Louis since he left for California in 2012. He returns to town for the first time since 2011 tonight.

Pujols may receive one of the longest ovations in Major League Baseball tonight. Former teammate Adam Wainwright tweets, “Welcome back Albert Pujols. You were a great teammate, you are a great friend, and one of the greatest Cardinals and baseball players to ever live. I don’t know what the record for longest ovation is but I hope you pass that tonight”

“Thank you Albert Pujols! You made our night. Nico will never forget you,” tweets Joe Squarini.

Albert and his wife started the Pujols Family Foundation in 2005 for their child, who has down syndrome. The foundation aims at improving the quality of life and their experiences not just for kids with down syndrome but for kids who have life-threatening illnesses. They also strive to help children in the Dominican Republic that need education, medical relief, and tangible goods. Albert Pujols was here last year but could not be here this year. A good friend filled his shoes and apparently it’s his right-hand guy.

“Albert and I had this pack that if he wasn’t able to be here for something Id help him out and he’s at home nursing an injury so Im happy that I am able to help.” said former Cardinal Jim Edmonds.

Pujols returns for his first game in St. Louis since leaving the Cardinals to sign a $240 million contract with the Angels before the 2012 season. The slugger won three NL MVP awards and made nine All-Star teams with the Cardinals, leading them to World Series championships in 2006 and 2011. Pujols, sixth on the career list with 645 home runs, batted .328 with 455 doubles, 445 homers and 1,329 RBIs in 1,705 games for St. Louis. He is scheduled to meet the media at Busch Stadium before the opener of an interleague series.

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About the St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals are one of Major League Baseball’s iconic franchises. The team with the “Birds on the Bat” have won more World Series titles than any other National League club, and are second only to the New York Yankees overall.

St. Louis has been home to a National League franchise since 1892, but the franchise wasn’t known as the Cardinals until 1900.

Behind future Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby, the Cardinals won their first World Series in 1926 over the Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig Yankees. The ‘Gashouse Gang’ era Cardinals dominated the 1930s thanks to Dizzy Dean, Johnny Mize and Joe Medwick and won the 1934 World Series.

Did you know that Branch Rickey, who would later rise to fame for bringing Jackie Robinson to the Major Leagues and breaking baseball’s color barrier, invented the minor league farm system we know today with the St. Louis Cardinals? It was Rickey who built a system of affiliate teams to grow talent that would later shine in St. Louis. In the 1930s and 1940s, that system produced the likes of future Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst and Enos Slaughter, all of whom won World Series championships for the Cardinals.

The Musial-era Cardinals would later give way to a new generation, and it was Bob Gibson and Lou Brock who helped bring the World Series back to St. Louis in the 1960s. Gibson had one of the most dominant seasons in baseball history in 1968. He was so good baseball lowered the mound the following year.

The 1970s saw the end of the Gibson and Brock years, the trade of Steve Carlton to Philadelphia and the arrival of Keith Hernandez. Hernandez would share the 1979 NL MVP award with Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell.

For the Cardinals, the 1980s could be summed up in a single word: Whiteyball. Behind Manager Whitey Herzog, baseball in St. Louis became synonymous with speed, stolen bases and defense. Shortstop Ozzie Smith was acquired from San Diego, and with Hernandez, second baseman Tommy Herr, a rookie outfielder named Willie McGee and closer Bruce Sutter, the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series over the Milwaukee Brewers. After Hernandez would dealt to the New York Mets, that core of players, along with slugger Jack Clark, would get the Cardinals to two more World Series trips that decade.

The 1980s saw the end of the Gussie Busch ownership era for the Cardinals. When he died in 1989, the Anheuser-Busch brewery took over after nearly 40 years under his watch.

In 1996 the brewery sold the club to the ownership group still led today by Bill DeWitt, Jr. The DeWitt family brought in former Oakland A’s manager Tony LaRussa, who would go on to be the winningest manager in team history. With another former Oakland hand running the front office in Walt Jocketty, the team acquired Mark McGwire from the A’s in 1997. The slugging first baseman would break Roger Maris’ single-season record for Home Runs in 1998 in a chase with Sammy Sosa that captivated the nation, only later to be tainted by the use of performance-enhancing drugs that McGwire admitted to years later.

In 2001, a young rookie named Albert Pujols burst on the St. Louis scene. Playing all over the field, he was the runaway winner of the National League MVP, setting the stage for the most dominant decade of offensive performance ever seen in a player’s first ten years in Major League Baseball. Catcher Yadier Molina came on board in 2004 as the Cardinals made their first World Series appearance since 1987. Two years later, a rookie pitcher named Adam Wainwright would fill in as the closer on a club that won its first World Series since 1982.

The Cardinals’ third World Series appearance in eight seasons may have been the most improbable when it came in 2011. A team that was left for dead at the start of September managed to roar into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season behind the pitching heroics of Chris Carpenter down the stretch. Once in the playoffs, the legend of David Freese was born. Freese, a St. Louis County native, won the National League Championship Series MVP by slugging three home runs against Milwaukee. Then in the World Series against Texas, down to the team’s last strike in what would have been a Rangers clincher, a Freese triple tied the game. A Freese home run in extra innings forced a Game 7, which the Cardinals won, bringing an 11th World Series crown home.

Albert Pujols left via free agency in the offseason and LaRussa retired, but the Cardinals kept moving forward, reaching the 2013 World Series against the Boston Red Sox with former catcher Mike Matheny now managing the club. In some respects, the Cardinals are still recovering from what happened October 26, 2014, when outfielder Oscar Taveras, considered a potentially generational talent who could have become the face of the franchise, died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

The Matheny era would last 6.5 seasons, until he was replaced by current manager Mike Shildt in 2018.

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