Cardinals: Albert Pujols gifts 697th home run ball to Pirates fans in classy gesture

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Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the ninth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 11, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The home run was the 697th of Pujols career, moving him to 4th place all time in MLB home runs. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the ninth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 11, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The home run was the 697th of Pujols career, moving him to 4th place all time in MLB home runs. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is three homers away from 700 — and on Sunday, he gifted his 697th home run ball to a pair of Pirates fans.

Albert Pujols’ push toward 700 home runs has caught the attention of not just St. Louis Cardinals fans, but to baseball fans across the country. Whenever he hits a home run, Twitter erupts and we marvel at how he’s only three home runs shy of reaching history.

And when Pujols hit his 697th home run on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a family of Pirates fans caught the ball. The couple, Matt and Samantha Brown, attempted to give the ball back to Pujols.

But when Pujols learned that Samantha lost her father one year ago to the day, he let them keep the baseball. Pujols also signed two more baseball’s for the couple, according to MLB.com, with the Hall of Fame slugger saying: “It’s just baseball. They deserve to have it. It went out of the ballpark. We play this game for the fans. So whether they want to give it back or they want to keep it, I don’t have any problem with that.”

Pujols added: “I think it means for that girl more than me having it in my trophy case.”

Quite simply, it’s an incredible gesture by the Cardinals slugger, and underscores yet another reason why St. Louis re-signed Pujols. Yes, he’s having a very good season — .266/.338/.528 with 18 home runs, 48 RBI and an .866 OPS — but he’s also been an incredible presence, both for his teammates and for the Cardinals.

The organization has rallied around him and vaulted into prominent position to represent the National League in the World Series. A large part of that is because of Pujols and what he’s provided the organization in his role against left-handed pitching. But the emotional component that he’s provided to both the team and the city cannot be understated.

It’s put the Cardinals at 83-58 and eight games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. It’s brought baseball fans across the country together. And on Sunday, it made the Brown families trip to the ballpark a day they’ll never forget.

Baseball is the best.

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