The Game-used Albert Pujols Primer

It’s no secret that Albert Pujols is considered by many to be the best young player in the game today.  The first player in major league history to hit .300 with 30 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 RBI in each of his first four seasons, Pujols is on pace to do the same in his fifth season – and he’s only 25 years old. As Pujols’ performance on the field has flourished, his popularity in the hobby has also gained momentum. Having handled a great deal of Pujols’ game-used memorabilia since 2001, I felt a “Pujols Primer” would be beneficial for game-used memorabilia collectors.

Genuine Albert Pujols game-used equipment is among the most difficult to obtain in the hobby.  Because Pujols has never signed an exclusive deal for the sale of his memorabilia, authentic examples of his jerseys, bats, gloves, and other equipment are quite scarce.  The purpose of this article is to provide collectors with an overview of what Albert has or has not used during his Major League career.  Let’s start with jerseys:

Game-worn Jerseys

2001: Cardinals jerseys were manufactured by Rawlings. Jerseys were tagged on the inside of the tail with a Rawlings tag, a size flag tag, and a year/set flag tag. No special patches were worn on these jerseys, until after 9/11 when the American flag patch was added to the back of the neck. Pujols wore a size 46 for a short time in April of 2001, and then switched to a size 48. Beware of properly tagged 2001s with loose embroidery on the front “birds and bat” logo.

2002: Cardinals jerseys were manufactured by Rawlings (for the last time). Jerseys were tagged on the inside of the tail with a Rawlings tag, a size flag tag and a year/set flag tag. The year/set flag tags on 2002 jerseys are a slightly different style than 2001. From April through late June, no special patches were worn on the jerseys. After the death of Darryl Kile and Jack Buck, special patches were added to each sleeve. Pujols wore a size 48 for the entire 2002 season. Beware of properly tagged 2002s with retail Buck and Kile patches and/or incorrect size numbers on the back and front.
 
2003: Cardinals jerseys were manufactured by Majestic for the first time ever. Jerseys were tagged on the outside of the tail with a Majestic tag and a size flag tag.  A very limited number of jerseys have surfaced with a year flag tag, but these are extremely scarce. No special patches were worn on 2003 Cardinals jerseys. Pujols again wore a size 48 for the entire 2003 season. Pay special attention to the interior wash tag on 2003 Pujols jerseys. While some were worn with a “6200” coded wash tag, a majority should have a “0062” coded wash tag.  Beware of most 2003 Pujols jerseys – unless you have a trained eye, game-used jerseys are virtually identical to retail jerseys. 

2004:  Cardinals jerseys were manufactured by Majestic. Jerseys were tagged on the outside of the tail with a Majestic tag and a size flag tag. A very limited number of jerseys have surfaced with a year flag tag, but these are extremely scarce. No special patches were worn on 2004 Cardinals jerseys. Pujols wore a size 48 for most of the 2004 season, switching to a size 50 late in the year (and throughout the postseason). Pay special attention to the interior wash tag on 2004 Pujols jerseys. While some were worn with a “6200” coded wash tag, a majority should have a “0062” coded wash tag. Beware of most 2004 Pujols jerseys – unless you have a trained eye, game used jerseys are virtually identical to retail jerseys.

2005: Like all MLB teams, Cardinals jerseys are being manufactured by Majestic. Specific tagging and size information is not available at this time. The Cardinals are wearing a special Busch Memorial Stadium Final Season patch on the sleeve of both home and road jerseys. Unless you purchase a jersey from the Pujols Family Foundation or Cardinals Care, 2005s should prove to be very difficult to obtain.  

Game-used Bats

“X” Bats with Dominican Flag and Mizuno Bats: To put two of the biggest game-used Pujols bat myths to rest immediately, Todd Perry (executive director of the Pujols Family Foundation) has confirmed that Albert Pujols has never used a Mizuno bat or a “X” bat with the Dominican Flag above the handle in a major league game. According to Perry, “Albert said he did receive a batch of X bats with the Dominican Flag, but the entire unused batch was given to Mike Matheny” (presumably to auction for his Catch-22 Foundation). Only one photo of Pujols holding a Mizuno bat has been found, and it was a black model without his name on the barrel (before he broke in with the Cardinals in 2001).

Old Hickory: Photographic research indicates that Pujols used Old Hickory bats in 2002, 2003 and 2004.  Although natural wood models have been the most prevalent, he was spotted using a two-toned model in 2002 and a black model in 2004. Old Hickory uses a “Custom Pro AP5” model number for Pujols’ bats.
 
“X” Bats: Pujols has sporadically used “X” bats (Model 24 – Pro Maple 34) since 2003. Many color combinations have been seen, including two-toned, natural, and all black. Again, beware of those “X” bats bearing the Dominican Republic flag.
 
Louisville Slugger and SAM: Pujols has used primarily Louisville Slugger and SAM bats since 2001.  Numerous color combinations and models exist. The most common SAM bats are natural SG1s and JB(1)S two-toned (black/brown) bats. Numerous Louisville Sluggers have been used, including (but not limited to): I13L, I13, C243, C271, and (M9) I13L.

Game-used Gloves

2001: Pujols split his time almost evenly between third base, first base and the outfield during his rookie campaign. As a result, a few different glove types exist.  Pujols used only black Nike gloves in 2001, with his name embroidered in yellow on the thumb of each glove.  Beware of Nike gloves that show excessive use and have strange initials hand written on the inside or outside of the glove. It is known that Pujols gifted many unused Nike gloves to relatives in the Dominican Republic, who used the gloves and later sold them in the United States as Albert’s gamers.

2002: Pujols played primarily in the outfield in 2002, but also spent some time at third and first (and even a few innings at shortstop). As a result, a few different glove types exist. Pujols used both black and dark tan Nike gloves in 2002, with his name embroidered in yellow on the thumb of each glove. Beware of Nike gloves that show excessive use and have strange initials hand written on the inside or outside of the glove. It is known that Pujols gifted many unused Nike gloves to relatives in the Dominican Republic, who used the gloves and later sold them in the United States as Albert’s gamers.

2003: Pujols did not play third in 2003, but spent time in both the outfield and first base. He used only Nike gloves in 2003, but there were subtle changes. All black and black-and-red (two-toned) gloves were used in 2003, with red embroidery on the thumb of each glove.  Beware of Nike gloves that show excessive use and have strange initials hand written on the inside or outside of the glove – and also be aware of 2003 gloves that are not broken in or show artificial game use.   

2004/2005: When he made the switch to playing first full time, he also switched to Rawlings gloves.  Pujols’ first baseman gloves are embroidered with his children’s names on the thumb in red (A.J. Pujols and Isabella Pujols). The first glove Rawlings made for Pujols was tan with red lacing, but later models were black and red or dark brown. Only one game-used Rawlings Pujols first baseman glove has been seen in the hobby to date.

 

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