At 6:50 p.m., a standing but less than capacity Angel Stadium crowd greeted him loud and long, causing Albert Pujols to tip his cap first to the third-base stands, then to the first-base side.

At 7:19 p.m., the Los Angeles Angels' first baseman dug into the batter's box against Kansas City Royals lefthander Bruce Chen. What a year ago may have seemed like an impossible fiction was officially on. A three-time National League most valuable player and a two-time world champion was in the books with a franchise that had won one championship and enjoyed two MVP seasons in its previous 51 seasons.

With one out and a runner at second base, Pujols took an inside slider and a high strike before lining a foul ball into the left-field seats. A high and away fastball evened the count at 2-2.

Pujols completed his first official at-bat jammed by a pitch that he lined to shortstop. Prematurely breaking from second base, Howie Kendrick became easy pickings to complete an inning-ending double play.

So began Pujols' 0-for-3 debut that also included a third-inning foul pop and a three-pitch strikeout in the seventh inning. His final plate appearance produced an intentional walk during the Angels' decisive five-run eighth inning, but the plate appearance came with his team already ahead 4-0. The Angels ended up winning, 5-0.

"I wanted to do something special but that's the way it goes," he said. "We got a win. I think that's the most important thing."