Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols hit his 499th and 500th home runs against the Washington Nationals yesterday. He has now joined the rarest of clubs, the 500 home run club.
In the top of the first, Pujols hit his first shot of the night. He hammered a Taylor Jordan pitch to left field, driving in J.B. Shuck and Mike Trout. That was the 499th of his career and seventh on the season. Pujols' wife, Deidre, was back at home with their five children. She planned to get on a pre-arranged flight to New York that she hoped would be where Pujols hit his 500th. Deidre told Albert that if he hit his 499th in Washington, that she would get on a plane immediately. But Pujols did not hold up his end of the bargain.
Then in the top of the fifth, Pujols hit a mammoth shot to left center field for number 500. As he rounded the bases, the Angels came out of the dugout to celebrate with the slugger. The crowd in Washington was cordial, giving Pujols the standing ovation he deserved. Pujols greeted them with a brief curtain call.
Albert Pujols is the third-fastest player to reach the 500 home run club, behind Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx. Pujols is the only member of the club to hit his 499th and 500th home runs in the same night. At age 34, Pujols' fantastic career is far from over. He's just getting started. The Nationals broadcast thought that Pujols had a shot of hitting 700 homers. We will have to see how he responds.
"It's pretty special," Pujols said about hitting 500 home runs. "To have almost 18,000 players wear a big league uniform, and to have only 26 players to do this, it's pretty special."
Eighteen of the 500 home run club members have made the Hall of Fame. The others are either up for induction within the next few years or have been linked to performance enhancing drugs. Pujols, by reaching this historic milestone, just might be a first ballot Hall of Famer five years following his retirement.
If Pujols hits another home run this month, he will set the Angels' all-time record for home runs in April with 9. While all of his first eight have been special, the weight has been lifted off of Pujols' back. Now the question is, "How far can he go?"
Pujols is currently under contract through the 2021 season. If he hits 40 home runs in each of these next seasons, he could actually hit over 800 home runs. While that seems farfetched, Pujols has been a fantastic player. And number 500 is just one step in an amazing career by slugger Albert Pujols.