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401 players were picked ahead of Albert Pujols in 1999 draft

December 8, 2011 | 10:03 am

Albert
Long before Albert Pujols became a superstar, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round in 1999.

That means 401 players were drafted ahead of him.

"I was crying and I wanted to quit baseball," Pujols said in an interview with "60 Minutes."

The Cardinals sent him to their minor league operation in Illinois, where he made $252.50 every two weeks. His wife, Deidre, had to support him.

But he refused to give up on his dream. Pujols, who estimates he takes 15,000 to 20,000 practice swings a year, was called up to the Cardinals in 2001. In his fourth game, he hit a home run.

Flash forward to Thursday.

Pujols is the only player in major league history who in his first 10 years as a pro never hit below .300, never had fewer than 30 home runs and never had fewer than 100 runs batted in.

He's considered one of the greatest of all time and was just signed by the Angels to a 10-year contract worth more than $250 million.

Pujols told "60 Minutes" he is driven by remembering how he felt when he was overlooked by so many teams more than a decade ago.

"I'll never get over it," he said.

Pujols' story is reminiscent of basketball great's Michael Jordan's.

Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore in high school.

Jordan later wrote on his website: "I think that not making the varsity team drove me to really work at my game, and also taught me that if you set goals, and work hard to achieve them — the hard work can pay off."

ALSO:

POLL: Is Pujols worth it?

Angels reach deal with C.J. Wilson

Bill Dwyre: The Albert Pujols derby: Is everybody nuts?

--Melissa Rohlin

Photo: Albert Pujols says he will "never get over" being rejected by so many teams in the draft. Credit: Tom Gannam / Associated Press

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