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11 April 2011

Albert Pujols a Special, Big Man

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was on CBS' 60 Minutes last night.  Ordinarily such an honor is bestowed on someone who has exhibited a particular brand of dishonor.  But last nights episode was not one of those times.

Most of Cardinal Nation is well aware of the big man's humanitarian deeds, but he has kept a low-profile about his charitable work and much of the nation is not as familiar with it.  His St. Louis-base Pujols Family Foundation is involved with children suffering with Down's Syndrome, and with assisting impoverished children in his native Dominican Republic.

After Sunday night's 60 Minutes piece, now the nation knows.

What No One Knew
There was one jaw-dropping piece of information about the giving nature of Pujols.  It took place late last season as the Cardinals were at the end of the road-trip that decimated their playoff hopes.  In Houston, after another demoralizing loss, Pujols quietly left Minute Maid park and headed to Texas Childrens Hospital to meet a patient he had heard about - 13-year old Brandon Johnson.  Brandon is suffering from a malignant brain tumor.

Pujols showed up to give Brandon the bat he had used to hit his 400th career home run - personally autographed - and visited with the boy and his family for an hour. There was no video just still photographs. In a follow-up segment on the 60 Minutes Overtime website, segment producer producer Draggan Mihailovich explains that Pujols never mentioned this act, that he heard about it from a third party, and Johnson's grandmother supplied the photographs used in the televised piece (Brandon's story starts at the 10:45 mark).  Mihailovich also states that Pujols' agent was not aware of the story.

On the 60 Minutes Overtime web page, is this comment by nanjimenez:
Thank you 60 Minutes for sharing this story about Albert Pujols! This is the kind of sports player I want to see and hear about! The story was great, I love it. But I love even more that a young man, Brandon got to meet and spend a lot of personal time talking to Albert. What a grest unselfish person to give that much time to Brandon, a kid with brain cancer from So. Texas. And not to mention the bat! I know how much this meant to Brandon and his Mom and to me, his Grandma. He talked about Albert's visit for months and when 60 Minutes called asking for an interview, well, let's just say he's been on cloud 9 ever since! Brandon is an Astros fan but he will never ever forget Albert!
 We have seen such acts of kindness from athletes in the movies.  Perhaps we have seen video of such things as a photo opportunity.  But for Pujols to do this with that bat - for an Astros fan, no less - displays a special kind of character.

A special act of kindness from a special, big man.

You can purchase this Albert Pujols baseball on the Pujols Family Foundation website (100% of the proceeds go to the charity.  There you can find out more information, make a donation, or volunteer your time to the cause.

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