Albert Pujols listened to the thunderous standing ovation as he rounded the bases Saturday, ran into the dugout and hugged Mike Trout, the cheering getting louder and louder, as the fans who root for the other team in red begged for a curtain call.
Pujols stepped out of the dugout, waved his Los Angeles Angels cap into the air, ducked back into the dugout, down the steps, into the hallway.
“I was so emotional there, I couldn’t help it,’’ Pujols told USA TODAY Sports. “It was amazing. I had to go downstairs for a minute because I was losing it. I was just sitting there and praising God.
“I’m just so glad I could do it for these people because they meant so much to me.
“They still mean everything to me.’’
It’s a love affair that began in 2001, and even eight years after leaving the St. Louis Cardinals, it may be stronger now than it’s ever been in his life.
Pujols may be playing for the Angels these days, but these are his fans. These are his people. This is still home.