Albert Pujols spent eleven seasons with the Cardinals, tormenting the division rival Cubs before departing for the Angels ahead of the 2012 season. Believe it or not, this is already his eighth season in Anaheim and he’s already fifth on the Angels career home run list.
Friday, the 39-year-old returned to Wrigley Field, and I couldn’t help digging into some Albert Pujols trivia to mark the occasion.
Pujols now has 57 career home runs against the Cubs, 20 more than any other active player (Ryan Braun is next with 37). Overall, 57 home runs against the Cubs is ninth all-time (Willie Mays leads the way with 92). But remember, the National League was an eight-team league through 1961, a 10-team league through 1968 and a 12-team league through 1992. That means more meetings between the Cubs and each opponent. More opportunities for home runs.
The first time Pujols faced the Cubs (May 11, 2001), the Cubs starting lineup looked like this:
2B Eric Young
3B Bill Mueller
LF Rondell White
RF Sammy Sosa
1B Ron Coomer
C Todd Hundley
SS Ricky Gutierrez
CF Damon Buford
P Jason Bere
Don Baylor was the Cubs manager.
Pujols played third base. His first homer at the expense of Cubs pitching came the next day - off Kyle Farnsworth. It was career home run No. 12 of 635.
With his home run on Friday afternoon, Pujols has now homered off 31 different Cubs pitchers. Along with Farnsworth and Cole Hamels, there has been:
Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Rodrigo López, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Jeff Samardzija, Ted Lilly, Glendon Rusch, Bob Howry, Jerome Williams, Matt Clement, Sergio Mitre, Randy Wells, Roberto Novoa, Félix Heredia, Billy Petrick, Michael Wuertz, Carlos Villanueva, David Patton, Rich Harden, Rich Hill, Travis Wood, LaTroy Hawkins, David Aardsma, Shawn Estes, Thomas Diamond, John Grabow and Sean Marshall.
Over the course of Pujols’ MLB career, 393 different players have appeared in a game for the Cubs. Don’t worry, I will NOT list them all. But here are a few: Fred McGriff, Joe Girardi and Eric Karros. The Cubs have had nine managers, including interim managers Rene Lachemann and Bruce Kimm, joining Baylor, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, Ricky Renteria and Joe Maddon
Pujols was the first player born in the 1980s to appear in a Major League game. The first from the 1990s, by the way, was Starlin Castro.
Pujols has faced Jesse Orosco (born April 21, 1957) and Freddy Peralta (born June 4, 1996). Neither pitched for the Cubs, but still… a 39 year gap! Pujols is 39 years old.
When Pujols made his MLB debut…
- Wrigley Field was the only NL Central ballpark around that’s still currently in use. Miller Park in Milwaukee opened four days later; PNC Park in Pittsburgh opened seven days later; Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati opened two years later; Busch Stadium opened three years after that.
- Mark McGwire was the Cardinals starting first baseman, and at the time he still held the single season home run record with 70 (in 1998).
- Joe Maddon was a coach for the Angels.
- 27-year-old Theo Epstein had yet to be hired as Red Sox general manager.
- Albert Almora Jr. was two weeks away from his seventh birthday.
- The Cubs had only gone 92 seasons since their last World Series win.
And now, the Cubs World Series drought is at a mere two seasons. Meanwhile, Pujols is back homering at Wrigley Field. The more things change, the more they stay the same.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.