With lots of people feeling many different kinds of emotions because of Albert Pujols signing with Los Angeles Angels I thought of another player that left a team after being there for many years, Pete Rose.
Pete Edward Rose Sr. signed with Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent in 1960. He debuted on Monday, April 8, 1963, at Crosley Field against Pittsburgh Pirates. He batted second in the batting order ahead of Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson and went 0 for 3 with one strike out, one walk and one run scored. He played 2B that day. His final game was on Sunday, August 17, 1986, at Riverfront Stadium against San Diego Padres. He pinch hit for Ron Robinson and went 0 for 1 with one strike out.
At 22 years old I am sure Pete Rose never imagined he would go on to play in Major League Baseball for 24 seasons, 19 of them with Cincinnati Reds.
I don’t know what it was like when he signed as a free agent to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1979 but I am sure Reds fans back then felt pretty much the same way Cardinals fans feel today with Albert Pujols leaving to go to Los Angeles. One thing that might help those fans feel better is; Pete Rose came back to the Reds in 1984 and played a few more years well into his 40s.
So Cardinals fans before you start burning your Albert Pujols jerseys remember that he was a huge part of that ball club for many years and without him your team would not have seen as many great playoff runs and of course even some of the great players that came to play for the Cardinals. Players like Pujols don’t come along every day. Be happy that you got to watch him become the player he is today and that he helped your community for many years. There are many different factors involved into his decision that many of us will never understand. It is not just him wanting more money, (if that was the case he would have clearly signed with Miami.) Another thing that they should be happy about is that he signed with a team in the American League instead of a team in the National League or even worse in their same division.
Pete Rose went on to play until he was 45 years old. Albert is now 31 years old. Many think he will not be able to play until he is 41 but I think with being on an American League team with the DH rule he could do it and then some. Having a player like that last until he was 45 would be unbelievable. Can you imagine his hitting stats at the end? Right now at 31 years old Albert Pujols has 2073 hits after 11 seasons with St. Louis Cardinals. Pete Rose had 4256 hits after 24 seasons. After age 40 he had 5 seasons with 100 or more hits. (172 being the most in 1982) If he can stay healthy there is nothing stopping him from doing what Pete Rose did and I really hope he can play out his 10 year contract with the Angels and maybe even play a few more years after that as a pinch hitter returning to St. Louis Cardinals to finish his career. Many baseball fans think that the Angels made a huge mistake by signing him for a 10 year contract and of course we all know the track record for those lengthy contracts but what if Pujols proves them all wrong. What if he does still hit 38 to 40+ home runs well into his late 30s? In 10 years from now will anyone go on to say how dumb the Cardinals front office was for not signing him sooner before he hit free agency? Or will this 10 year contract be just like the rest? Only time will tell and from where I am standing the Angels walk out of this deal very lucky and I am sure the profits in the first three to four years will gladly pay for the rest of his contract no matter if he plays good or not.