ST. LOUIS – The end of an era is nearing. This weekend marks the last time that Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright will take the field at Busch Stadium as St. Louis Cardinals teammates in a non-postseason format.
Pujols and Molina will wrap up their lengthy and dominant MLB careers when the 2022 season comes to an end. Wainwright has not yet announced his future plans beyond this year.
In seven full seasons as teammates, from 2006 to 2011 and in 2022, the Pujols-Molina-Wainwright trio set a standard that might not ever be matched again in Cardinals history. The three shattered baseball records and won two World Series titles together while taking pride in many charitable efforts off-the-field.
FOX 2 explores some of the top moments in the careers of Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright in a three-part digital series throughout the final homestand. Part III: Albert Pujols.
- 21 MLB seasons played (2001-2022)
- 3,075 career games (2,024 at first base)
- 20,236 innings played
- .296 batting average (3,378 hits)
- 700 home runs
- 2,208 RBIs
- 1,908 runs
- 117 stolen bases
- 6,195 total bases
- .374 on-base percentage
- .543 slugging percentage
- .917 on-base plus slugging percentage
- June 1999: The St. Louis Cardinals select Albert Pujols in the 13th round of the MLB draft as the 402nd overall pick, widely considered one of the best late-round draft bargains in MLB history.
- 2000: Pujols hits his way from Single-A Peoria to Triple-A Memphis in a matter of months. He finishes his only minor league season with a .314 batting average, 19 home runs and 96 RBIs. He gets one of his first tastes of winning as the Memphis Redbirds win the Pacific Coast League Championship. Pujols is named the PCL postseason MVP.
- March: A late spring training injury to Bobby Bonilla helps Albert Pujols’ chances of making the Opening Day roster. Then-Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire tells manager Tony La Russa that leaving Pujols off the roster “might be one of the worst moves you make in your career.” Pujols indeed makes the Opening Day roster at 21 years old.
- April 2: Pujols makes his MLB debut at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies, hitting sixth and playing left field. He picks up first hit against Mike Hampton, his only knock in three plate appearances, and the Cardinals fall 8-0 in his first game.
- April 6: Pujols slugs his first MLB home run off of Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Armando Reynoso. It’s a two-run blast that scores Ray Lankford and gives the Cardinals a 4-2 lead. Pujols also had his first three-hit game, paving the way to a 12-9 victory and his first win with St. Louis.
- April 9: Batting seventh and playing third base, Pujols makes his home debut at Busch Stadium II. What better way to make a good first impression in St. Louis than with a home run? Pujols goes deep for the second time in his career, again a two-run shot scoring Lankford. The Cardinals get revenge on the Rockies after a tough opening series to win 3-2 in their home opener.
- July 9: Pujols becomes the first Cardinals rookie to make an All-Star team in nearly half of a century. He becomes one of three rookies with at least 20 home runs before July. Pujols goes hitless in his first All-Star Game, though later ends up with All-Star honors in nine of his first 11 seasons with the Cardinals.
- Oct. 10: Pujols competes in his first postseason series and gets his first postseason home run in the same ballpark he had his first regular-season home run. His first postseason home run victim? Hall of Famer Randy Johnson in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. The Cardinals drop the five-game series, one of only two Pujols campaigns in which the Cardinals don’t advance past the first round.
- End 2001: Pujols unanimously wins National League Rookie of the Year honors, becoming the fourth first-year player to collect .300 with 30 home runs, 100 runs, and 100 RBIs in the same season. He also earns his first Silver Slugger at left field and places fourth in NL MVP voting.
- May 6, 2002: Pujols bats third for the first time in his sophomore season. He plays 125 games in the cleanup spot, but starts getting familiar with a spot he would later hold for more than 1,000 games with the Cardinals. Pujols gets one hit in the effort, a 6-5 loss at Wrigley Field to the Chicago Cubs.
- Sept. 20, 2002: Pujols picks up a game-winning hit in a 9-3 victory over the Houston Astros, clinching the National League Central division crown for the Cardinals. After the game, Pujols marks the postseason run by bringing out a jersey in memory of fallen teammate Darryl Kile, who died from a heart condition midseason.
- End 2002: Pujols becomes the first MLB player with back-to-back years of a .300 batting average, 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in the first two seasons. It’s also his first time as MVP runner-up, trailing behind MLB’s all-time home run king Barry Bonds in each of his first four seasons.
- July 12-Aug. 16, 2003: Pujols enjoys a 30-game hitting streak, the longest of his professional career and second-longest in Cardinals history.
- July 14, 2003: Pujols competes in his first of five Home Run Derby events at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. He reaches the final round with 18 home runs before being just edged out, 9-8, by Anaheim Angels outfielder Garret Anderson in the championship round.
- July 20, 2003: Pujols blasts his 100th career home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The ballpark is one Pujols eventually calls home briefly and hits a historic home run nearly two decades later. Pujols becomes one of just four players to attain 100 home runs in their first three seasons, and the Cardinals rally for a 10-7 road victory.
- Sept. 20, 2003: Pujols leads the Cardinals to a walkoff, 13-inning win over the Houston Astros with his 114th career home run, his final of 43 in his third season. The moment helps him match Ralph Kiner for the most home runs of any MLB player in their first three seasons.
- End 2003: Pujols wins his first batting title with a .359 batting average. He also leads the National League in runs, hits and doubles. St. Louis narrowly misses postseason for the first time in Pujols’ young career.
- Feb. 20, 2004: Pujols signs a 7-year, $100 million contract with the Cardinals, the largest offered by the franchise for many years. Earlier in the offseason, the Cardinals announce intentions for Pujols to be the team’s primary first baseman for the first time in his career after trading Tino Martinez in the offseason.
- July 20, 2004: An iconic game in the history of Albert Pujols. Three home runs, including a go-ahead ninth-inning home run to cap an 11-8 comeback against the rival Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. It’s also the first time in which he picks up 5 hits and 5 RBIs in the same game.
- Sept. 26, 2004: Pujols drives in four in a 9-3 win over the Rockies and collects 500 RBIs over his first four MLB seasons, one of only three players to reach that accomplishment.
- Oct. 23, 2004: Pujols reaches the World Series for the first time in his career. While the Boston Red Sox sweep the Cardinals in four games, Pujols found a groove in his first Fall Classic with a .333 batting average.
- End 2004: Pujols, along with teammates Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds, all finish with Silver Sluggers and in the Top 5 in NL MVP voting, a year many dub as the “MV3” season. The Cardinals won 105 regular season games, their personal-best mark with Pujols.
- Aug. 31, 2005: Persistent Pujols production. The first baseman gets his fifth straight 100-RBI season, making him one of four to open their careers with such a streak.
- Sept. 30, 2005: In the last regular season home series at Busch Stadium II, Pujols goes deep for his 200th career home run off of Cincinnati Reds reliever Matt Belisle. He becomes the third-youngest and second-fastest hitter to reach that mark. Pujols ends up with 94 career home runs at Busch Stadium II.
- Oct. 17, 2005: A moment no baseball fan will ever forget. With the Cardinals on the brink of elimination in the National League Championship Series, Pujols comes up with two outs and blasts a towering home run to the upper deck of Minute Maid Park. Reliable Houston Astros closer Brad Lidge allows a three-run blast, all St. Louis needed for an epic comeback. The win guaranteed one more postseason home game at Busch Stadium II, though the Cardinals fell short two days later and were eliminated from the postseason.
- End 2005: Pujols plays a personal-best 161 games, leads the league with 129 runs scored and 27 intentional walks and smashes 40-plus home runs for the third straight season. At last, he earns his first National League MVP title.
- April 10, 2006: Pujols gives fans a warm welcome at the new Busch Stadium III, smashing the first Cardinals home run in the inaugural season home opener. He takes Milwaukee Brewers starter Tomo Ohka deep in the third inning, one frame after infielder Bill Hall made history with the ballpark’s first home run. Pujols sparks the Cardinals to a 6-4 comeback in the first game at the new home grounds.
- April 16, 2006: Pujols ends up with quite a memorable first homestand at Busch Stadium with five home runs in six games. That includes three consecutive blasts and a walkoff on Easter Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds.
- April 16-17, 2006: An encore to his Easter heroics, Pujols homers in his first at-bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving him four home runs in four consecutive plate appearances. He’s one of only 20 players to accomplish that feat in MLB history.
- April 21, 2006: Pujols connects for his 1,000th career hit against Cubs starter Jerome Williams. He gets three hits and 4 RBIs in an eventual 9-3 Cardinals victory.
- June 4, 2006: Pujols gets placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career with an oblique strain. While doctors thought the injury might keep him out for months, Pujols returns in just around three weeks.
- Sept. 28, 2006: With the Cardinals narrowly holding onto the NL Central Division lead, Pujols plays hero for a key St. Louis win. In the eighth inning, Pujols corks a three-run blast against an eventual postseason opponent in the San Diego Padres. St. Louis wins 4-2 and snaps an untimely seven-game losing streak.
- Oct. 3, 2006: Pujols wrecks havoc with the Padres again, slugging a game-winning home run in Game 1 of the NLDS at Petco Park.
- Oct. 27, 2006: Pujols becomes a World Series champion for the first time in his MLB career as the Cardinals best the Tigers four games to one in the Fall Classic. Pujols picked up his first World Series home run in the opening World Series game nearly one week earlier.
- End 2006: Pujols slugs a career-best 49 single-season home runs and improves defensively for his first Gold Glove honor. He finishes as the MVP runner-up, just after Philadelphia Phillies first baseman and St. Louis native Ryan Howard.
- Aug. 17, 2007: Pujols takes Chicago Cubs starter Rich Hill deep in a 2-1 home loss to the division rival. It’s notable in the fact that Pujols next takes Rich Hill deep on Aug. 21, 2021, when Pujols and Hill were with short-term teams in the Dodgers and Mets. The 5,118 days in between home runs is the third longest span in MLB history.
- Aug. 17-22, 2007: Pujols mashses for a five-game home run streak in matchups between the Cubs and then-Florida Marlins.
- April 1-May 14, 2008: Pujols begins the year with a 42-game on-base streak, the longest to start a new season in his career and MLB in the 21st century. He had eight home runs and the Cardinals went 24-18 during that stretch.
- End 2008: Pujols wins his second NL MVP award behind a .357 batting average, 37 home runs and 116 RBIs. He also wins the Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable work through the Pujols 5 foundation.
- April 25, 2009: Pujols picks a “grand” moment for his 1,000th career RBI. A grand slam helps him reach that milestone and Pujols remains one of only seven hitters with at least that many in a Cardinals uniform. The Cardinals trounce the Cubs, 8-2.
- May 21, 2009: Pujols knocks out the “I” light of Big Mac Land with a towering solo home run in a Cardinals’ 3-1 win over the Cubs. Future teammate Paul DeJong would knock out the “M” light of Big Mac Land nearly 10 years later.
- July 3, 2009: Pujols slugs his tenth career grand slam against Reds reliever David Weathers. Pujols also reaches 350 career home runs on the grand slam, making him the third-fastest player in MLB history to reach that feat.
- July 13, 2009: Pujols puts on a show for the hometown crowd during the first All-Star week at Busch Stadium III, Pujols smacks 11 home runs over two rounds, though Brewers’ first baseman Prince Fielder wins the event.
- End 2009: Pujols leads the National League in home runs (47) and on-base percentage (.443) for the first time in his career. He earns his third NL MVP award, and it’s his first and only unanimous selection for the award.
- June 29, 2010: Pujols crushes two home runs off of Diamondbacks starter Dontrelle Willis for his 37th career multi-home run game. It ties Stan Musial’s franchise record and powers the Cardinals to an 8-0 win.
- Aug. 26, 2010: Pujols launches his 400th career home run off of Washington Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. He becomes the third-youngest to reach that feat, though the Nationals play spoiler with an 11-10 extra-innings win.
- June 4-5, 2011: A moment so nice, he did it twice. Pujols blasts extra-inning, walkoff home runs in back-to-back games against the division rival Chicago Cubs. St. Louis comes from behind in both games, two key wins in what would prove pivotal in later-season fortunes.
- July 30, 2011: Pujols continues to clobber Cubs pitchers, picking up his 2,000th career hit against reliver Carlos Marmol. He becomes the 12th fastest in MLB history to that milestone and remains one of five to pick up that many hits in a Cardinals uniform.
- Sept. 28, 2011: Pujols and the Cardinals overcome improbable odds to punch a ticket to postseason. It started with nearly a 10.5-game deficit from a postseason spot on month before. St. Louis secures the NL Wild Card game on the final day of regular season. Pujols puts the Cardinals in a good spot early, driving in the first of five first-inning runs. It’s the game-winner in an 8-0 win over the Astros, though Pujols falls just short of a .300 batting average and 100 RBIs for the first time in his career.
- Oct. 10, 2011: Pujols delivers a four-hit night with one home run and five RBIs in Game 2 of the NLCS. He turns in a game of four hits or more in each postseason series. St. Louis ultimately defeats the division rival Brewers in six games, including the clincher on Milwaukee’s home grounds.
- Oct. 22, 2011: Quite possibly Pujols’ best postseason moment next to the 2005 Lidge home run. Pujols slugs three home runs in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series. It leads to a five-hit, six-RBI night and a 16-7 rout of the Texas Rangers. The Fall Classic becomes a back-and-forth battle after that, but the Cardinals prevail. St. Louis overcomes a 3-2 series deficit, down to their final strike twice in Game 6, to secure its 11th World Series championship.
- Dec. 8, 2011: Pujols tests the free agency market for the first time in his career after the Cardinals come up short on a contract extension in spring training. He accepts a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels, tens of millions of dollars less than what St. Louis intended to offer him out of free agency.
- July 31, 2012: After some early-season struggles with his new ballclub, Pujols finds a groove in the second half. That includes his first multi-home run game in a non-Cardinals uniform. It comes at the Rangers at the same ballpark he had his three-home run game less than one year before.
- July 2-4, 2013: Pujols takes on the Cardinals as an opponent for the first time in his career in a three-game road series at Angel Stadium. He only has one hit in the series, but makes it count. In the ninth inning of the series, he scores on a game-tying home run just minutes before the Angels win on a walkoff.
- April 24, 2014: Exactly 1,357 days separate Pujols from milestone moments at the same ballpark. He hits home runs No. 499 and 500 at Nationals Park, the same venue he where he turned to page to 400. Pujols drives in five in a 7-2 Angels’ win.
- Aug. 10, 2014: Pujols plays a big part in Angel Stadium history, a 19-inning marathon that becomes the longest in venue history. He seals the win with a walkoff home run against the Boston Red Sox, good for his first such instance since departing St. Louis.
- Sept. 6, 2014: Pujols comes up clutch in a game with two non-home run milestones. His 2,500th career hit sparks a ninth-inning comeback for the Angels. He also scored his 1,500th run earlier in the contest.
- July 2015: Pujols earns his first All-Star nod with the Angels, his 10th all-time. He also reaches the second round in the Home Run Derby at the Great American Ballpark, home of the Cardinal-rival Reds.
- Oct. 4, 2015: Pujols goes deep in the final game of the season, giving him his first and only 40-home run season in a non-Cardinals uniform.
- 2016: Pujols works his way to 10,000 career plate appearances, 5,000 career bases, 600 doubles and 300 intentional walks. He also drives in 119 runs, his single-season best outside of his Cardinals years.
- June 3, 2017: In grand-slam fashion, Pujols slugs his 600th career home run at Angel Stadium. It gives him home runs going into the next set of hundreds at two Los Angeles ballparks.
- May 4, 2018: Pujols collects 3,000 career hits, a mark many consider as Hall-of-Fame caliber for hitters. He bloops a broken-bat, opposite-field single off former Cardinals pitcher Mike Leake in Seattle. He is one of just 33 players with 3,000 MLB hits.
- Aug. 10, 2018: Pujols picks up his 1,000th career hit with the Angels. He remains one of just 15 players with at least 1,000 hits on two different teams.
- May 9, 2019: Pujols drives in his 2,000th career run off of a home run at Comerica Park against Detroit Tigers pitcher Ryan Carpenter. Angels win 13-0 in a blowout.
- June 21-23, 2019: At long last, Albert Pujols makes his return to Busch Stadium as a visitor. Cardinals fans cheer on one of their all-time greats with loud, minute-long ovations each of the three games. The most memorable moment… Pujols sends one from future teammate Dakota Hudson to the Busch Stadium bullpen in Game 2 of the series and the crowd roars to celebrate his first home run at the ballpark in eight seasons. St. Louis wins the first two games, and Pujols collects four hits in the series.
- May 2021: A tough stretch for Pujols after the nostalgic series, paired with a post-pandemic baseball world, led to the Angels releasing Pujols in the final year of his 10-year contract. Within a week, the nextdoor Los Angeles Dodgers sign him to a one-year deal to finish up the season. He blasts his first Dodgers home run on May 20.
- Sept. 6-9, 2021: Pujols comes back as a visitor once more and takes battle in a series against the Cardinals for the fourth and final time. In his first at-bats of the series, hitting third in Game 2, Pujols unloads for a solo home run off soon-to-retire starting pitcher J.A. Happ. He draws a walk in the series finale, one many thought could be his final moment at Busch Stadium until a sweet surprise months later.
- March 28: A dream for many Cardinals fans becomes a reality. Albert Pujols returns to the St. Louis Cardinals on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. After a lockout-extended offseason and discussions about a slightly-reduced role, Pujols announces it will be his final season with the Cardinals and in Major League Baseball.
- April 12: Albert Pujols is officially back, and he lets Busch Stadium know it. He corks a two-run home run off Kansas City Royals starter Daniel Lynch to put the Cardinals ahead, marked by an iconic call from Bally Sports Midwest’s Dan McLaughlin, “Welcome back, Albert! It’s like you never left!” He begins the season at 679 home runs, and the pursuit to 700 gets off to a nice start.
- May 15: The Cardinals explode for 15 runs in a primetime Sunday Night Baseball matchup with the San Francisco Giants, and Pujols had two hits before something pretty unexpected happens. Albert Pujols takes the mound in the ninth inning, treating fans to his first-ever pitching appearance. He allows four runs, but with a comfortable lead, navigates through trouble to seal a victory like few others at Busch Stadium.
- May 22: Pujols explodes for a two-home run game at PNC Park against the Pirates, the first of four such instances this season (Also Aug. 14, Aug. 20 and Sept. 23). Cardinals trounce the Pirates, 18-4, and Pujols longtime teammate Yadier Molina follows his footsteps with a late-game pitching appearance.
- May 31: Pujols ends the month with a walkoff sacrifice fly against the Padres. It comes more than 4,000 days after his last walkoff heroics at Busch Stadium.
- June 4: Pujols enters a road game against the Chicago Cubs as a defensive replacement for his 3,000th career game. He is one of just 10 to reach that feat, a testament to his longevity and dominance.
- Early-July: Pujols falls a bit behind in the power department with just four home runs over the first three months. Perhaps an All-Star nod as a legacy selection and one more Home Run Derby special reinvigorates him. In his final Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium, Pujols crushes 35 total home runs and upsets then-NL home run leader Kyle Schwarber in an extended opening round.
- July 27: The Summer to 700 is one step closer to being back on track. Pujols belts his first big-fly out of All-Star break against the Toronto Blue Jays in a rare interleague series. With just more than two months remaining in the season, Pujols is 14 home runs shy of the 700-club. His task to get there? Hit a home run just about once every four games.
- Aug. 18: A first for Pujols in his 22-year career… A pinch-hit grand slam. That’s good for 690 in his career and jolts the Cardinals to a three-game home sweep of the Rockies.
- Aug. 29: Pujols now stands alone in one unique baseball category. He homers off of Red reliever and Wentzville native Ross Detwiler for his 450th home run off of a unique pitcher. It’s a record he extends to 456 (and counting).
- Sept. 4: The final last full month of Pujols’ career starts with his final series against the classic-rival Cubs. He pinch-hits late in the series finale and he plays hero. In his final at-bat against the Cubs, Pujols busts a scoreless tie on a two-run home run. He ends up with 59 home runs in the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry, more than any team aside from the Astros, who moved to the American League in 2013. In the chase to 700, that’s 695.
- Sept. 10-11: It only took a matter of two days for No. 5 with the Birds on the Bat to officially match and take over the No. 4 spot all-time among Major League Baseball’s home run kings. Pujols corks a game-tying blast in the middle game of a Pittsburgh series to tie Alex Rodriguez. And he comes up even more clutch with 697, a ninth-inning, go-ahead blast to spark a comeback and gritty series win.
- Sept. 23: HISTORY! A moment baseball fans in St. Louis and beyond have been anticipating since the start of the Pujols retirement tour. He begins his final series at Dodger Stadium with 698 home runs and St. Louis jumps out to an early lead. Pujols works his magic in consecutive at-bats in back-to-back innings. Third inning; Home Run No. 699 off Andrew Heaney. Fourth inning; Home Run No. 700 off Phil Bickford. A packed house at Dodger Stadium, a venue he called home just one year before, erupts in cheers and Pujols gets a few minutes mid-game to celebrate arguably the biggest milestone of his baseball career.
- Spet. 30: Days after clinching his final NL Central Division crown, Pujols returns for his final home series at Busch Stadium. A pregame ceremony honors him for reaching 700 just one week before. The Cardinals present a golden bat for Pujols to mark the honor. Even better, he has one surprise up his sleeve. Pujols leads off the fourth inning with a towering, game-tying solo home run to Big Mac Land. It’s his 701st career home run and possibly the last in his Busch Stadium career or all-time records. He has four more games to add to it.