After 700 home runs, a look at Albert Pujols’ time in the KC metro

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 7:22 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - MLB legend Albert Pujols recently joined rare company after hitting 700 home runs in his major league career.

For 40 years Bill Althaus has been standing on the sidelines, scoping out Independence-area sports talent for the local Examiner newspaper. It’s the same job that allowed him to witness the greatness of Albert Pujols.

“His local career was just as dynamic as his professional career,” said Althaus.

Before Pujols became the home run hitting machine in the majors, he was a Fort Osage Indian in Independence in 1997 and 1998. He even led the high school to a state championship.

He was a household name around the area for his incredible power.

“Crysler Stadium, it has an elevated fence at left field and he hit a home run over the train tracks, into the church parking lot, another 150 feet beyond the train track. The coach walked him the next three at bats,” Althaus said.

After high school, he went on to play for Metro Community College - Maple Woods in Kansas City during the 1999 season.

“His drive and competitiveness are what stood out the most with me about Albert,” said his college head coach Marty Kilgore.

Albert quickly made his way to the MLB, being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, where he would play for 10 years.

He then played with the Angels and Dodgers. Now, he is back with the Cardinals.

It was Friday that Albert entered an exclusive club for hitting 700 homeruns.

Many in the metro are surprised about his achievements but are also very proud.

“When he was here, we knew he was a great player and he would get the opportunity to go on and do some great things. But I don’t think, when he was here, anybody could predict he was going to hit 700 home runs or be rookie of the year,” said Kilgore.

Althaus says, “I covered 60 or 70 of the guy’s amateur league games in Buckner and Independence and like I said earlier I knew he would be a great player. I would be lying if I said he would be the top four of all time and here he is four guys in the 700 club”.

Albert is set to retire at the end of this season, and many are waiting for his next achievement which will most likely be him getting inducted into the hall of fame.