Although the accomplishment has been diminished over the last few years, history was made last night. Albert Pujols’ 500th home run made him the 26th in history to accomplish the feat, and as someone who is a benchmark in this hobby, that is a VERY big deal. Its hard to say what he has meant to baseball cards, because he has had a truly enormous impact on both the prospecting and rookie side of the game.
Here are some of my favorite cards of his to pick up:
Whenever a prospect comes screaming hot out of the minors, everyone automatically compares them to what happened back at the beginning of the decade with Pujols’ ascension to the top of the Cardinals’ lineup. He was not a number one pick like Harper or Strasburg, and most of his cards were only crazy expensive once he started playing as well as he did.
The benchmark for new player value may be moving more towards his teammate Mike Trout, but Pujols is the hall of fame for measuring that kind of rise through the ranks. Its rare that a player will win one MVP, let alone all the awards that he has won, making it clear that he is obviously one of the best ever. The issue in the hobby is that things are very much based on the new hotness or the “what have you done for me lately” mentality. Because of a few down years, its clear that Pujols wasn’t the monster he was back a few years ago. His Bowman Chrome rookie card still is the most expensive in the history of the product, and will likely be that way for the foreseeable future.
We should all be happy he hit his 500th home run, because it adds to the allure of the game. He is the one guy who has never had any suspicion of PED usage, and seems to be the role model that baseball needs. That also means that 500 home runs doesn’t mean what it used to, especially among collectors who have already given up on Barry Bonds and company for their connection to steroids. Its inevitable that the discussion will eventually turn this direction.
I have been a fan of since watching the Cardinals at Busch stadium about 6 years ago, and I am glad that he finally made his mark. He sure has done so around the hobby, no matter what his current stat line may say.