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Albert Pujols

Gruesomely cool images of St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols dance into your living room like a Dominican Republic merengue. Pujols wears a warrior mask as he menacingly swings his bat to the rhythm that Nike dictates. The Cardinals' superstar, the apparent future cornerstone of the new Busch Stadium in 2006, is a commercial success. Pujols has come a long way from just four seasons ago when he first suited up in the Cards' famous double-birded home jersey. "I remember 2001 when I first made the team," he says. "I was really scared because I was a young Christian, and I didn't know how things were going to go-until one of the best teammates I had, Mike Matheny, took me under his wings and told me everything was going to be all right...

Three of baseballʼs most dominant hitters the last decade have joined together, but their confidence isnʼt in their ability on the field – itʼs in knowing that God is in control. The regular season hadn't even started, but St. Louis Cardinals' fans were excited about the possibilities as they watched their team in spring training during March. Albert Pujols. Matt Holliday. Lance Berkman. All together in one dangerous lineup. Pujols joined the Cardinals in 2001. Holliday was acquired from Oakland in 2009 and Berkman signed a one-year, $8 million deal with St. Louis in the off-season, coming over from the Yankees after becoming a free-agent. "Some fans are starting to call this new lineup that the Cardinals have 'Murderer's Row,'" says Cardinals Hall of Famer Lou Brock, referring to the famed 1927 New York Yankees lineup of Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri...

The invitation came in the mail one day, and 24-year-old Shawn Hoskin was all aflutter for weeks. He had been invited to the Pujols Family Foundation’s annual autumn prom, the jackpot of all invitations. Every October the Pujols Family Foundation – the charitable organization established by St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and his wife Deidre in 2005 – holds the prom for teenagers and young adults with Down syndrome. Albert and Deidre have a daughter, Isabella, with Down syndrome, and they wanted to use their resources to make a difference in the lives of others with the same condition – like Shawn. In the days leading up to the event, Shawn got more and more excited. It was all he talked about to his parents. The day of the prom came, and Shawn got a shoe shine, a haircut and a bow tie. His father Ron chauffeured him to the prom in the family Cadillac, used only on special occasions. Then Shawn abandoned his dad in favor of the dance floor, but Ron didn’t mind a bit...

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