Pujols: La Russa Was Like A Dad To Me, A Mentor
Cardinals player said he's humbled by huge statue of self in Westport Plaza.
First basemen Albert Pujols and his wife Deidre Pujols thanked swarms of Cardinals fans coming out to Westport Plaza Wednesday, where officials unveiled a bronze 10-foot, 1,100-pound statue of the baseball player about 11 a.m.
"I don't even know what to say...," Pujols told the crowd, describing the experience as very humbling. The anonymously commissioned statue sits in front of Pujols 5 Grill, Pujol's restaurant.
Pujols also talked about Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa's retirement. He said La Russa had been like a dad to him, and a mentor. Pujols said he will miss La Russa, yet wished him the best.
Pujols fans came from across St. Louis County and across the Mississippi River to the unveiling.
Syl and Judy Biermann of Town and Country said they were only guessing what the statue would look like, prior to the unveiling.
Jeff Crisel of Carlyle, IL said he was hoping for a surprise announcement from Pujols that he would sign his contract. He said the 2011 World Series was the best ever.
Others came to the unveiling with items they hoped to get autographed. Carla Sitzes brought her 2010 first base. She said it was the first base the Cards used during the July 20 game with the Phillies.
"I've been a Cardinals fan all my life," Sitzes said.
Lisa Bulczak, general manager of Westport, told the crowd Pujols wanted the statue close to the Pujols Foundation and his restaurant, Pujols 5. She was keen on the idea, she said, when they approched her originally.
"I instantly said yes," she told the crowd, but had to get permission from Westport's Boston and Chicago partners.