Tuesday, May 24, 2022

As Albert Pujols returns to Cardinals, a look at stars who went back to original teams to finish careers

The St. Louis Cardinals are reuniting with slugger Albert Pujols. Pujols is expected to sign a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, pending the results of a physical. He will retire after the season is done.

The 42-year-old star spent the first 11 seasons of his Major League Baseball career with the Cardinals before signing a massive 10-year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. In May 2021, Pujols was designated for assignment by the Angels after hitting .198 with five home runs to begin the season.

After clearing waivers last season, Pujols singed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 85 games, he posted a .254 batting average to go along with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs.

Pujols enjoyed a tremendous amount of success with the Cardinals during the early part of his career. Throughout sports history, there have been an abundance of athletes that ended their careers by returning to the teams in which they began their professional careers with. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy reunions that have taken place in sports over the years.

Dwyane Wade

Superstar guard Dwyane Wade will always be thought of as one of the faces of the Miami Heat. However, Wade did spend time with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers late in his career before returning to South Beach. In 2017, Wade was traded by the Cavaliers back to the Heat and played the final two seasons of his NBA career in Miami. During his final season, Wade averaged 15.0 points, 4.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 33.0 percent from three. Wade got to finish out his career in Miami on his terms and his No. 3 is retired by the franchise.

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson was one of the most dangerous pound-for-pound players that the NBA has ever seen. The Georgetown product was one of the biggest stars and personalities in the history of the game, but a divorce with the Philadelphia 76ers certainly didn’t bring out the best in Iverson’s game. After stints with the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies, Iverson signed a one-year deal to return to the Sixers during the 2009-10 season following a short retirement. The 11-time All-Star appeared in 25 games in his second go-round with Philadelphia and averaged 13.9 points-per-game before leaving the team to care for his sick daughter.

Ken Griffey Jr.

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Slugger Ken Griffey Jr. was widely regarded as one of the most dangerous power hitters of the 1990s. Griffey enjoyed a ton of success during the first 11 years of his professional career with the Seattle Mariners before the franchise traded him in 1999 after he expressed a desire to play closer to his hometown of Cincinnati. Griffey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds and also had a stint with the Chicago White Sox in 2008. However, the left-handed power hitter returned to the Mariners in 2009 and spent the final two seasons with the team before retiring.

Ichiro

The Mariners also saw a reunion with Ichiro late in the future Hall of Famer’s career. Ichiro had spent the first 12 seasons of his MLB career in Seattle before being traded to the New York Yankees in 2012. The switch hitter spent the next three seasons with the Yankees before signing with the Miami Marlins. However, over the final two years of his career, Ichiro chose to return to Seattle and retired in 2019 after the Mariners opened the season at the Tokyo Dome in Japan where he is from. Ichiro finished his career with 3,089 hits, which ranks 24th on the league’s all-time hits list.

Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson has had a great deal of success wherever he’s went throughout his football career, After becoming the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy, the star cornerback was selected with the No. 4 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Woodson blossomed into one of the most talented ball-hawking corners that the sport has ever seen and tallied 65 interceptions throughout his career. The Michigan product ended up signing a seven-year contract with the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and saw out the duration of that deal. However, Woodson chose to return to the Raiders as he signed with the team in 2013. He went on to play the final three seasons of his career in Oakland and recorded 10 interceptions during that time.

Kevin Garnett

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Kevin Garnett put together a Hall of Fame career that began with the Minnesota Timberwolves after the team selected him with the No. 5 pick in the 1995 NBA Draft out of high school. Garnett was one of the most polarizing players across the NBA as he spent the first 12 years of his professional career in Minnesota. Despite all of the personal success, Garnett expressed a desire to win and was ultimately traded to the Boston Celtics, where he won an NBA title in 2008. Garnett also had a two-year stint with the Brooklyn Nets following his six years in Boston before coming home. The Hall of Fame big man was traded back to the Timberwolves late in the 2014-15 campaign and played his final season and change in Minnesota before retiring from the sport in 2016.

Plaxico Burress

Plaxico Burress was one of the most heralded prospects when he came out of the 2000 NFL Draft and was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers took Burress with the No. 8 pick and the lanky wide receiver spent the first five seasons of his NFL career in Pittsburgh before signing with the New York Giants. Burress had an immense amount of success in New York and even caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII against the New England Patriots. Following a one-year stint with the New York Jets, Burress signed a deal to return to the Steelers after wideouts Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery suffered injuries. Burress caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown to finish out the 2012 season then suffered a torn rotator cuff the following season, which prompted his retirement.

Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker was a star in the USFL before the Dallas Cowboys acquired his NFL rights by selecting him in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL Draft. Walker ended up scoring 26 touchdowns in his first stint with the Cowboys before the team traded the star running back to the Minnesota Vikings. The Georgia product also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants before playing the final two seasons of his professional career with the Cowboys for a second time. Walker totaled just 103 rushing yards and a touchdown over those final two seasons.

Tom Glavine

Tom Glavine was a member of one of the most daunting starting rotations ever assembled alongside Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. The two-time National League Cy Young winner produced a 305-203 record to go along with a 3.54 ERA during his time in Atlanta. In 2003, Glavine decided to move to the division rival New York Mets on a four-year, $42.5 million contract. After five years in New York, Glavine chose to return to Atlanta on a one-year, $8 million deal. Glavine ended up going 2-4 with a 4.54 ERA during the 2008 season then was released the following season when he was completing a rehab assignment. The left-hander then decided to retire from the sport and his No. 47 was retired by the Braves.

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