Fort Osage grad Pujols ties Mays with homer No. 660
DENVER – A few weeks ago, Albert Pujols received a text out of the blue: "It's your time now. Go get it."
That meant a lot coming from none other than Willie Mays, the Hall of Famer he was trying to catch.
Pujols, a former Fort Osage High School star, tied Mays for fifth place on the career homer list with a two-run shot in the eighth inning, and the Los Angeles Angels rallied for a 5-3 win over the slumping Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
"To be able to have my name in the sentence with Willie Mays is unbelievable," Pujols said. "I'm really humbled."
Trailing 3-2, the 40-year-old Pujols lined a fastball from Carlos Estevez (1-3) into the empty seats in left field for his 660th homer. He was eagerly greeted by his teammates following his first homer since Aug. 4.
"I was just telling them, 'Finally, I hit one in the air,'" Pujols cracked.
Pujols now trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696) on the career home run list.
"Everybody knew what was at stake. Everybody knew what was going on," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "It was almost like a walk-off reaction when he hit it. Everybody was thrilled for him."
The ball was easily retrieved from the stands with no fans to fight over the keepsake – or celebrate the milestone. Pujols will keep the ball, but his bat went to third base coach Brian Butterfield, a Mays fan.
The secret to Pujols' prodigious power? He doesn't try to go deep. That simple.
"You go out there and try to put a good swing," Pujols said. "Every 660 that I have now, that's what I try to do every time."
Pujols said that when he retires he will reflect on all his memorable milestones.
"Because that's when I'm going to have plenty of time to look at what I've done," Pujols said. "I know my place in history. I know that because friends and family are always talking to me. I try not to get caught up too much in numbers or records or who's next."