St. Louis Cardinals fans were treated to a very special and bittersweet moment Thursday when beloved pitcher Adam Wainwright stepped on the field for the final Opening Day of his career. He made it count with a memorable rendition of the National Anthem that induced goosebumps all throughout Busch Stadium.
It was just as surreal for Wainwright himself, who expressed his gratitude to the Redbirds and their faithful fans.
“Man… whew. Yesterday was an unforgettable moment for me. Thanks for always making me feel loved St. Louis. I have loved being here with y’all through it all. Now, let’s go win this thing,” Wainwright Tweeted.
The unexpected performance only came to be after the 41-year-old suffered a groin injury that prevented him from taking the mound Opening Day and for the next few weeks. Wainwright left those in attendance with an unforgettable experience just the same. Cardinals baseball without the 17-year right hander is difficult to imagine.
Wainwright is second in both WAR and strikeouts in franchise history and top five in wins, innings pitched and games played. Truly impressive credentials to boast on one of baseball’s most storied organizations. He appeared to be nearly finished six years ago when he posted a 5.11 ERA. The three-time All-Star defied early retirement after enjoying a career renaissance the last few years. He finished seventh in Cy Young voting in 2021 and recorded an ERA of 3.71 last year- his age-40 season.
What speaks more volume than anything else is 2023 is not just merely about his farewell tour. Wainwright is unquestionably needed in order for St. Louis to be legitimate World Series contenders. His absence is as detrimental to the team as it is to the fans who want to savor every last inning he pitches.
When Wainwright is officially done, he will continue to share his musical talents. His post-baseball ambition is to take the country music world by storm. He has already worked towards that goal after completing an album which he performed at a benefit concert earlier this year.
Opening Day was a showcase for him on a big stage, but it was also a special parting gift for Cards fans everywhere. Perhaps, the first of many this season.
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