That Albert Pujols took to the mound as a first-time pitcher at age 42 and didn’t set a record is all you need to know about the depth of Major League Baseball’s record books.
There he was on Sunday, a massive first baseman in the final days of his famous career, throwing fastballs at 61 mph and curveballs at 54 mph in the ninth inning to help close things out. in a resounding victory without taxing the St. Louis Cardinals’ enclosure. He was lit up by the San Francisco Giants to the tune of three hits (including two homers), a walk and four earned runs, but he walked away with the title of second-oldest player to pitch for the first time since at least 1929.
Sorry, Albert, Lena Blackburne beat you.
Despite the poor results and lack of superlatives, Pujols, who blossomed into a much happier version of himself once he landed with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season and seems to have it postponed until he returned to St. Louis, was amused. by everything.
“A dream come true to say I did it,” he told reporters. “It was fun. It wasn’t fun to drop two bombshells. I think the fans had a great time. I’m sure the guys who took me deep did too.
At 42 years and 119 days, Pujols lost 106 days less than Blackburne, the Chicago White Sox manager, who entered a blowout in 1929 at 42 years and 225 days. Both were older than Satchel Paige, who played in an American League game for the first time at 42 years and 2 days in 1948 after starting his major league career in the black leagues in 1927.
At least Pujols can hang up his hat after hitting 677 more home runs than Blackburne, a lightweight infielder who was technically still a player-manager in 1929 but had appeared in only one other game since 1919.
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“Relax, okay? Don’t try to hit everyone. Withdrawals are boring! Besides that, they are fascists. Throw balls on the ground, it’s more democratic.
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Pujols’ appearance in the Cardinals’ 15-6 victory was a hit on social media, and the Giants’ Evan Longoria was so amused after advancing two runners with a single that he demanded the ball be won for him. It’s a much better reception than Blackburne and the White Sox had in 1929 after a 17-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Coverage in The New York Times was pretty minimal, but the Chicago Tribune’s Irving Vaughan looked absolutely disgusted with the White Sox in the next day’s paper. Vaughan, however, saved his anger for the team rather than the manager, who had warmed up in the dugout with substitute receiver Buck Crouse before leaving for the cleanup.
“The White Sox are no longer comical; they are pathetic,” Vaughan wrote. “They reached that point today when the Boston trail club toppled them like a herd of toy soldiers, a sight so irritating to manager Lena Blackburne that he himself took on the burden of throwing in the eighth to end the striking riot that had gotten out of Dan Dugan’s control.
That Blackburne finished the game was something of a gift. He entered with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and quickly allowed a two-run single to Jack Rothrock, the only batter he faced. But Rothrock was sent off trying to stretch him into a double – whether that was a gift to the White Sox was not discussed in coverage at the time.
As for Pujols, it doesn’t seem likely that he will return to the mound, although he did technically complete the task given to him by finishing the game without the use of another reliever – the gold standard of a position launcher. And in a sport where things can get tense when it comes to sportsmanship, both teams walked away without any accusations of violating the unwritten rules.
The only casualties in that case were Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, who broke the major league record for most wins together as a battery – 203 to 202 amassed by Warren Spahn and Del Crandall of the Braves from 1949 to 1963 – only to have their achievement somewhat overshadowed by a soft-throwing hitter.
Don’t worry: Wainwright and Molina were given a rather crude celebration to honor the feat, with their teammates showering them with almond milk and soda in the clubhouse.
“It’s a blessing to be able to do this with him for as long as we have,” Wainwright said of Molina, who has been with him for 311-plus games.
Hopefully Wainwright, 40, could still be throwing when he reaches Pujols’ age. But he should do it without Molina, who has said he will retire after this season.