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In a recent interview, Cardinals legend Albert Pujols admitted to a special relationship with his first manager, Tony La Russa – like father and son.

In a segment called “5 Minutes with No. 5” with Tom Ackerman of News Radio 1120 KMOX, Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols admitted to what many fans knew already. He has a pretty special relationship with his first manager, Tony La Russa.

Here’s what Pujols told Ackerman about their relationship:

“(Our relationship) is just like father and son…. for me, we built a great relationship and I think the memories, those are the things that we take with us. (La Russa) is somebody I can call, pick up my phone right now, and if he’s not doing anything, he answers. I called him (at) 1, 2 o’clock in the morning just to have a conversation when I was on the West Coast…. For him to allow me to have that relationship with him is pretty special.”

Here’s more of the interivew:

Ackerman said he remembered hearing La Russa say in 2003 that Pujols was the best player he had ever managed. Huge praise from a future Hall of Fame manager about a superstar in the midst of his second season in the major leagues.

Cardinals: Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa have a bond

Pujols said he felt comfortable coming to La Russa from the moment he arrived at Spring Training in what became his rookie season in 2001. Pujols said he was never about building up his numbers, rather he wanted to help the team win and continue their winning culture.

“I always wanted to come out and figure out what I can do to help the team win and with a manager like Tony LaRussa, I felt comfortable every day to do that. He always got the best out of me because I knew he always had my back,” Pujols said.

The future Hall of Famer also brought up his Pujols Family Foundation. Many were worried the good works of his foundation would exit the St. Louis community when he left for Los Angeles in 2012, but Pujols and the foundation remained active.

“We never left,” Pujols said, noting their offices and presence remained in St. Louis while branching out to other communities. Now that he is back in St. Louis, he remains active in the good works of his foundation.

According to the foundation’s website, the organization strives to “promote awareness, provide hope and meet tangible needs for children and families who live with Down syndrome. To improve the standard of living and quality of life for impoverished people in the Dominican Republic through education, medical relief, and tangible goods. To provide extraordinary experiences for children with disabilities and/or life-threatening illnesses.”

The organization is very important to Pujols and by extension the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s just another great reason to see Pujols back with the Cardinals!

The Five Minutes with No. 5 is a weekly segment with Pujols and Ackerman with the interviews guaranteed to reveal something that makes Pujols even more special in the eyes of fans in St. Louis.

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