Shaq Set For Head-To-Head Showdown With Pujols

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal swears he was once a T-ball All-Star and a high school first baseman with the "world's biggest strike zone."

The 7-1, 325-pound O'Neal was introduced as the "king of cross training" at a news conference Wednesday, part of a promotion for his upcoming ABC show that pits him against other superstars in a battle of athletic prowess. He was joined by St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols to discuss their upcoming home run derby on one of the shows.

Pujols may lead the majors in home runs, but Shaq is clearly king of the one-liners.

Baseball nickname? "When I was little, I was known as Shaqqie Robinson." When he pitched: "I was the big black unit."

O'Neal also promised there would be no head games with Pujols, noting: "Usually I try to get into the mind of my opponent, but I don't think it's wise to talk smack to a man who always has a bat in his hands."

Despite a fairly impressive ceremonial first pitch Tuesday night at Busch Stadium with Pujols on the receiving end, O'Neal said that was the first game he's watched from the stands in his life. And after watching O'Neal take batting practice, Pujols noted his opponent "obviously" needs to work on his technique.

Pujols offered a few pointers at the news conference, noting that O'Neal didn't have to overpower the ball to hit a home run. O'Neal responded: "I don't want your tips, Albert. I'm going to beat you fair and square."

Pujols was a point guard on the basketball team in high school and said he used to be able to dunk. No more, not since he's bulked up to 245 pounds.

"I think if I tried I'd probably blow out my hamstrings," Pujols said. "That's why I chose baseball" for the challenge.

The show debuts Aug. 18, with the first episode testing O'Neal's football-throwing prowess against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The date for the Pujols episode has not been determined.


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