Dominican ties remain strong for Pujols

Dominican ties remain strong for Pujols

Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Albert Pujols is one of many Dominican stars who have thrived in the big leagues, but he holds a special place as one of the most consistent power hitters in baseball history. And he has come a long way from the dirt fields where he grew up using a lime for a baseball, old wood for a bat and a milk carton as a glove.

Pujols' father, Bienvenido, was a local softball player in the Dominican and, along with Pujols' grandmother, made the move from the Caribbean to the United States with Albert, then 16, in 1996. Pujols and his family briefly stayed in New York before moving to Independence, Mo., where he won a state title in '97. He attended Maple Woods Community College for one year before he was selected in the 13th round by St. Louis in '99.

Pujols has not forgotten his Dominican roots.

He is almost always around countryman and teammate Erick Aybar in the Angels' clubhouse and can be heard speaking Spanish to other players. Pujols also helps celebrate his heritage by providing Dominican food to visiting players in Anaheim.

Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.