In the fifth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Angels, fans at Nationals Park witnessed a moment of baseball history. Albert Pujols hit the 500th home run of his career, a towering two-run shot into the center field seats off Nationals right-handed starter Taylor Jordan. He became the 26th player in history to hit 500 home runs.
“To have over 19,000 players who were in a big league uniform and to only have 26 players to do this, it’s pretty special,” Pujols said after the game.
Jordan fired a 1-2 sinker high in the strike zone and Pujols hammered the ball to into the Red Porch seats to the right of Angels bullpen. The slugging first baseman — and one of the best hitters of this generation — pointed to the sky as he touched home plate. The Angels dugout emptied and met him at home plate to congratulate him.
Fans at Nationals Park stood and applauded. As the applause continued, Pujols emerged from the dugout for a curtain call, a rare but classy gesture for rival fans.
Pujols hit No. 499 off Jordan in the first inning, a three-run shot to left field. Pujols now has a major league-leading eight home runs this season.
At 34 years old, Pujols is the third youngest player to reach the 500 home run milestone. Only Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Fox did it faster, both at 32. Pujols, a three-time National League MVP, is the first player to hit career home runs No. 499 and 500 in the same game. He has hit 24 career home runs against the Nationals.
The Nationals have been on the other side of several historic moments in baseball history. On Aug. 8, 2007, Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record by hitting No. 756 off Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik in San Francisco. On June 4, 2009, Randy Johnson notched his 300th win at Nationals Park. Pujols also hit his 400th home run at Nationals Park on Aug. 26, 2010.
“What’s so special is to be able to hit 400 here and to be able to hit 500,” Pujols said. “That’s something that’s pretty special. [Tuesday] I share with a couple of guys, I was in the batting cages. I had a good feeling that it was going to be a special day. As players and athletes, you just have a feeling. … To do it in the same park you hit 400, to say that you’ve reached two milestones like that, 400 and 500, it’s pretty special.”