Albert Pujols is About to Enter Uncharted Hobby Territory
Collecting 3,000 hits in one’s career is an impressive feat for any baseball player. Only 31 players to date have reached the milestone in Major League Baseball’s glorious 149-year history. Hitting 600 home runs is another miraculous achievement. Only nine players have reached that plateau. But combining the two accomplishments within the same player’s career has only been done by three players: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez. Well, guess what? A fourth player is about to gain entrance to MLB’s ultra-exclusive 3,000 Hits/600 HR Club. His name is Albert Pujols.
What makes Sir Albert’s admission to the club “uncharted” is that he will be the first player from the modern era to reach the milestone with more than one true rookie card to his credit and no asterisk next to his name. Hall of Famers’ Mays and Aaron both have single rookie cards: 1951 Bowman #305 and 1954 Topps #128, respectively. They also obtained the incredible milestones over the course of playing for more than two decades; Mays for 22 seasons, Aaron for 23.
“A-Rod,” on the other hand, has multiple rookie cards to choose from including his 1994 SP Red Die-Cut Holoview #33, 1994 Fleer Update #U86, 1994 Upper Deck Star Rookies #24, and finally, his 1994 Leaf Limited Rookie Phenoms Gold card (1 of only 5,000). But the circumstances surrounding his self-admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs as well as his suspension for the entire 2014 season for violating the league’s PED policy have forever placed a black cloud over his 696 home runs (fourth most in history). And unlike the two HOFers mentioned in the preceding paragraph, A-Rod – who retired in 2016 after 22 seasons – will not be enshrined in Cooperstown anytime soon, if ever.
Fast forward to today and Albert Pujols. As of this writing, Pujols was just four hits shy of cracking the 3,000-hit barrier. He entered the 600 HR Club on June 3, 2017, with a grand slam, no less. It was his biggest milestone achieved as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, a team he joined in 2012 after playing 11 seasons in St Louis. And the best part about his phenomenal career is that he’s done it all naturally. The only thing the 240-pound first baseman can be found guilty of is occasionally overloading on carbs. And you know what else? He’s done it all inside of 18 seasons!
So now, this week in fact, is the time to take a deeper look at the Dominican slugger’s rookie cards. As the Angels open a two-game home stand tonight against the visiting Baltimore Orioles, Pujols looks to reach the historic number in short order. He will certainly be in elite company and his multiple rookie card issues from manufacturers including Bowman, Donruss, Fleer, Topps and Upper Deck will once again increase in value.
The most valuable of his rookie cards is the 2001 Bowman Chrome autograph #340 (1 of 500), which easily fetches more than $5,000 at auction in PSA Mint 9 condition. The fact that it’s printed on Refractor card stock only heightens its appeal. Other top RC issues, also hard signed by Pujols, include his 2001 UD SPx autograph #201, numbered to 1,500, which brings upwards of $500 in PSA Mint 9, while his 2001 Bowman Rookie Autograph #BA-AP – graded PSA Gem Mint 10 – could secure more than $1,000. Even his 2001 Donruss Signature Series #151 RC, with its stickered autograph numbered to 330 and graded PSA Mint 9, can generate between $500 and $1,000 via eBay.
And for those collectors seeking non-autographed rookie cards of the super slugger, there are plenty to be had including his 2001 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection card (numbered to 250), as well as his 2001 SP Authentic RC (numbered to 1,250). Based on scarcity alone, expect to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars for either card in better than PSA Mint 9 shape.
How much higher can these cards go? Well, let’s just see what happens when he clubs his 700th home run. Right now, the 38-year-old youngster with a .304 career batting average is just 81 round-trippers away.