Albert Puhols has been named a National League All-Star at 3 positions. He has won batting titles, a World Series ring, and voted MVP of the National League, as well as a gold glove this past season.
But for the first time, the Cardinal first baseman will report to spring training as a US citizen.
Puhols, a native of the Dominican Republic, officially became a citizen Wednesday, when he was sworn in by US district court judge Richard Webber. The ceremony took nearly a yearlong process for Puhols.
The 27 year old Puhols received a perfect score on the oral and written exam, according to Chester Moyer. the officer in charge of the US citizen and immigration office at the St. Louis, Missouri branch. The 15 minute exam included questions about the American form of Government, the functions of the three major branches of American government, how a judicial proceeding works, and questions on Americas’ history.
“We asked him a few extra questions as a little extra test.” ” He knew everything.” Said Moyer.
Upon being told that he had achieved a perfect score, Puhols clenched his fist and said, “I did it.”
“He was trilled”, said Moyer. “He wanted to get it right and he did it without agents or lawyers present.”
Puhols graduated from high school in Independence, Missouri in 1998. The Cardinals selected him in the 13th round of the draft in 1999. In 6 seasons with the Cardinals, Puhols has hit 250 home runs, 758 RBIs’, and batted 332. He has 3 All-Star games that he has played 3 different positions, a batting title, been MVP of the National League and a World Series ring.
Puhols applied for citizenship last year, Moyer said. The time between was spent for a back round check by the government, which includes fingerprints, and an age check. Paperwork related to the individuals application for entry into the country is scrutinized also. Moyer said that Puhols was a clean check.
With his wife Deidre helping to tutor him, Puhols prepared for yesterdays exams. The Cardinal slugger took the oath of citizenship with about 20 members from his family and restaurant present. Puhols restaurant is named Puhols 5.
Those who earn citizenship, take the oath in groups of 60 to 75 people at ceremonies held twice a month, according to Jim Woodward, clerk of the US District court. Arrangements were made so that Puhols could complete the process before leaving for spring training in Florida next week. Anyone was invited but, the event was not published.
It is not unusual for a ceremony for one individual but, it usually involves more individuals, said Woodward.
Webber addressed Puhols about his rights and responsibilities for about 20 minutes in regards to his citizenship. Puhols appeared to take it very seriously, Woodward said. When it was over he looked very pleased.
“He was very down to earth about the whole process.”, said Woodward. “It wasn’t what you expect from a celebrity of his status.”
The Cardinals will begin defense of their World Title on April 1st. They will do it with a new US citizen in Albert Puhols.
Sources: Joe Strauss, STLToday.com