For Albert Pujols respect and gratitude was all about dollar signs, commas and decimal points.
It didn't matter that the St. Louis Cardinals treated him well and set his family up financially for life. When he hit the free agent market he wanted top dollar. There would be no home town discount.
So that makes it a bit sad that on Tuesday night an Air Force Sergeant caught Pujols' 500th home run ball and, according to new reports, he turned the ball over to the Anaheim Angels to give to Pujols in exchange for whatever they thought was fair -- and then got seriously stiffed.
Similar home run milestone balls hit by Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds have sold for millions. The Halos — the ones with the mega television deal that allowed them to dole out nine-figure contracts for Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton — knew that. Still, Sgt. Tom Sherrill got an Angels cap and the promise of four complimentary tickets to a future ballgame in exchange for the ball.
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Albert Pujols is in the middle of a $240 million contract with Anaheim. He made $116 million with the Cardinals before that and untold additional millions from endorsement deals. Do the right thing, Albert, and share your good fortune with a hardworking guy who did the right thing for you.
Pujols could buy the guy a house and not even miss it. It would change a life forever for the positive. Albert is a guy known for his charity work but he can be decidedly impersonal when it comes to dealing with fans. I'm so tired of the people who pay the freight for MLB players to be multi-millionaires being treated like a nuisance.
He may not belong to St. Louis anymore. But I'd feel a whole lot better about Albert if he'd fix his new team's faux pas and do something nice for the guy who returned a very valuable baseball with no strings attached.