He was only 16. He was running an errand, and before he was able to return home, he became a wittness. A witness to a man getting shot to death on a crowded New York City street, shortly after arriving to the Americas with his family. As it turned out, the "Big Apple" was to dangerous and spacious of a place for such a young boy with an elderly family member to live. His grandmother encouraged him to find a safer place to live.
His family was miserably poor. He had never seen a clean baseball field, but rather the rusty ones that he was able to walk by. He rarely saw his father, the man that proved to be his inspiration. He was barely able to speak any English in a diverse society in which one will be eccentricly looked upon if they are speaking a foreign language.
He and his family moved to Independence, Missouri, the place known as "America's Heartland". What type of poor, uneducated, hispanic teenager would be able to survive when all possible factors are going against him?
The answer: A determined one. More specifically, a determined Albert Pujols.
He practiced baseball day in and day out, and knew that learning English would only benefit him and shorten his path to the big leagues. So what did he do? He hired a tutor to help him learn the language. He dreamed of playing professional ball, and was as determined as a baseball player can be. He had the motivation: He idolized Julio Franco, once the oldest player in the MLB at 49. He had his father, one of the most famous pitchers known throughout the Dominican Republic. And lastly, he had his pride.
Pujols showed his power during his high school years at Fort Osage High. His coaches and peers were constantly praising him, and by his junior year he was attracting pro scouts.
Shortly after, Pujols made the decision to attend Maple Woods Junior College. Once again he put on display his incredible power and ability to drive in runs and hit for average. The Junior College World Series came around, and opposing managers came to the conclusion that it would be better to put Albert on rather than pitch to him. The Cardinals organization saw this, and responded by offering him $10,000. Pujols, although not wealthy throughout his childhood, recognized his above average abilities and decided to reject the offer. After realizing what a special talent he was, St.Louis countered again, this time offering him a deal six times the value of the first one, worth $60,000. Once he accepted the offer, he begin learning third base, due to Fernando Tatis holding down the hot corner.
Battling and battling, Albert eventually made the 25-man roster in spring training of 2001, and made his major league debut in left field while collecting three hits. Manager Tony LaRussa enjoyed the versatility of the power righty. He could play him at the corner positions in both the infield and the outfield, and was able to stick him in the middle of the lineup. Pujols went on to win the Rookie of The Year award, but more importantly trust from his teammates and the fans. He also won the Silver Slugger Award and was voted onto the National League All-Star team.
Pujols has gone on to hit at or above .300 in every one of his professional seasons (.299 in 2011), and has been voted to the All-Star game anually. He has gone on to become one of the best players in the game both on and off the field. Pitchers are afraid to pitch to him, and he has donated a significant amount of money to non-profit charity organizations in honor of a childhood that every child doesn't dream of, and in honor of his daughter who was diagnosed with down syndrome early in her life following birth.
Pujols and the Cardinals are a game away from a World Series title, after fighting back and winning in dramatic fashion in Game 6. Only one controversial and debatable question rises from this year's World Series: Will Pujols still be wearing Red, Yellow, and White next season? Or will he end up with a team willing to pay him more?
Lone and behold, the Marlins link. A new stadium, and a new start. They have a new manager, and a new payroll. The thought process is, and should be, if St.Louis wins Game 7, Pujols will finish out his great career as a Cardinal. But if not, St.Louis needs to be willing to pay, and if they start off stubborn, the situation will get interesting.
So why not? The Miami Heat have "The Big 3", and the Miami Dolphins are promoting the ever so popular "Suck For Luck" campaign. So why can't the new Miami Marlins spread the "Bring the King to his South Beach throne" idea? It's only the number of 0s that matters.
Numbers make deals. Deals get players, and players get championships. World Series title or not, "Bring the King for a Ring!".