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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

End of an era

A jumbotron at Busch Stadium sends a thank-you to former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright after his postgame concert on Sept. 29. Wainwright performed multiple original songs as a celebration of his 18-year career. “The postgame concert was crazy,” Wainwright said.
Will Gonsior
A jumbotron at Busch Stadium sends a thank-you to former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright after his postgame concert on Sept. 29. Wainwright performed multiple original songs as a celebration of his 18-year career. “The postgame concert was crazy,” Wainwright said.

As much as we repeat the axiom that “all good things must come to an end,” we humans never quite believe it. Each time a reliable presence suddenly waves goodbye, we’re consistently shocked, as if we expected the status quo to extend on forever. Few St. Louisans have had as consistent of a presence in this city as former St. Louis Cardinals staff ace Adam Wainwright. Wainwright had his swan song this year, capping off an 18-year career as one of the faces of the Redbirds franchise. To honor him, the Cardinals dedicated the final weekend of their 2023 season, which ran from Sept. 29-30, to celebrating their veteran cornerstone. Through internal Pathfinder connections, I gained close access to Wainwright’s concert, admission to his farewell ceremony and a long-distance interview with the ace himself. The Pathfinder salutes Wainwright for his years of service to the Cardinals, to St. Louis and to the world as a whole.

Career

Wainwright’s career has been one of the most impressive in Cardinals history. He compiled 40.5 Wins Above Replacement; only the incomparable Bob Gibson compiled more in the Cardinals uniform. Wainwright has been voted among the top three National League (NL) pitchers four times and was chosen as the best defensive pitcher in the NL twice. He capped the tenth World Series win in Cardinals history with his trademark “Uncle Charlie” curveball and is the third man to win 200 games as a Cardinal.

“[Wainwright is] one of the best Cardinals ever. He’s been here forever. It’s great that he got his 200 wins,” junior and varsity baseball pitcher Henry Wild said.

It’s not uncommon for Cardinals fans to associate Wainwright with winning. Each of his 200 wins have brought joy to St. Louis. 

“It’s really fun to see [Wainwright play,] especially when he wins,” said freshman Carly Gonsior. “There’s so much action with pitching; you get to watch him most of the game, and he’s a great player.”

The most impressive accomplishments come from his years working with his catcher and batterymate, future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina. Wainwright and Molina hold the all-time MLB records for starts and team wins as a battery. Their consistent dominance turned the duo into pillars of the St. Louis community, whose presence across two decades could be counted on like death and taxes.

“It was awesome playing with Yadi,” Wainwright said. “He was my catcher all the way back [in] 2004 [for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.] I always tell people that one of the things I’ll be most proud to tell my grandkids when I get old is that I got to play catch with Yadier Molina every fifth day for eighteen years.”

Wainwright will forever be associated with an unbelievable run of dominance by the Cardinals, which will cement his legacy as one of the greatest players to wear the Birds on the Bat.

“We’re going to remember him as a great pitcher, one of the best pitchers in Cardinals history,” Wild said. “He should be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame for sure.”

Community

Wainwright is one of those rare individuals who make an impact wherever they go. For example, he once served food in his hometown of Brunswick, Ga. at the trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery — a stand against the abhorrent racial motivation behind Arbery’s murder. Furthermore, Wainwright won the prestigious Roberto Clemente award for his outreach stretching across North and South America. His work with Water Mission brought a water filtration system to a community in Honduras near where Houston Astros gold-glover Marcio Dubon grew up, leading Dubon to personally thank Wainwright when playing against him nine years later. Wainwright’s non-profit Big League Impact has raised over $8 million for charitable causes. On top of his international work, Wainwright has been committed to giving back right here in St. Louis.

“St. Louis has become home for us. I fell in love with the generous and easygoing nature of the Midwest. The fans and the city embraced me from the very start,” said Wainwright.

One of Big League Impact’s main causes is fighting food insecurity in St. Louis. The charity has provided over six million meals through its Home Plate Project and a partnership with Crisis Aid International.

Concert

One of the gifts given to Wainwright for his years of service to the Cardinals was his own concert. Wainwright will release a country music album next year and used the concert to gain experience for his career after baseball. After their game on Sept. 29 against the Cincinnati Reds, Wainwright got behind the mic to perform his songs “Time to Fly,” “A Song Will Bring You Back” and “Hey Y’all.”

This profoundly biased columnist thinks Wainwright has a great voice, although Wainwright would still get a glowing review here if he sounded like Kermit the Frog. The fans’ response spoke volumes of their regard for Wainwright: instead of leaving to beat the notorious postgame Busch Stadium traffic, many stuck around to support the longtime ace. That crowd responded with all the force of their vocal cords when Wainwright was paraded around the stadium in a truck before his performance. The ensuing performance was full of emotion on Wainwright’s — and the audience’s — part, which made the experience surreal.

Freshman Carly Gonsior (left) watches with friends as Adam Wainwright performs an original song. Wainwright’s performance enthralled fans like Gonsior who chose to stay for his postgame concert. “[The concert] was really fun, and his music was really good. I enjoyed seeing him perform at [something other than] baseball,” said Gonsior. (Will Gonsior)

“I’ve played baseball in front of the wildest and biggest crowds in the world of baseball. [I’ve] played in the biggest moments, but I never got nervous. Then, getting asked to play on the field after the second-to-last game, I started getting nervous just thinking about it — but once the time came for the show, I was locked in and at peace. It was amazing,” Wainwright said.

Ceremony

Wainwright’s farewell ceremony was a fitting tribute. Bringing together Wainwright’s family, close friends, members of the Cardinals organization, and, randomly, author John Grisham, the celebration was centered around Wainwright’s impact on others. Like Wainwright himself, it was more about his impact than it was about his talent. That was reflected in the moment that drew the loudest applause — when Wainwright welcomed back Molina with a hug, everyone was swept up in the emotion of the moment.

“[The ceremony] was really good. [The Cardinals] definitely did a good job of celebrating [Wainwright.] I thought it was a great way to end his career,” Gonsior said.

Wainwright, Molina and other current and former Cardinals gave speeches to commemorate the event. Former Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter had some trouble getting through his speech, which focused on how a certain young pitcher had changed his life. Carpenter was visibly choked up and received a round of applause for his emotion.

“Having my teammates speak was really special,” Wainwright said. “The best part of the farewell ceremony was the genuine love that I felt from everyone involved.”

The team presented Wainwright with everything from a painting by Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III to a grant for a Honduran water treatment facility to a dog, but Wainwright was more interested in reflecting on the love he felt rather than the gifts he received. Well, mostly.

“Louie [the dog] was pretty cool,” Wainwright said.

More than anything else in his career, the Cardinals celebrated Wainwright because he always treated everyone the way he wanted to be treated. In a time when sports brands increasingly emphasize an “us against the world” mentality, Wainwright dedicated himself to serving the world. His fame and money worked for him, not the other way around, and he harnessed both to make a difference in St. Louis and beyond.

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Will Gonsior, Staff Writer
Pronouns: he/him Grade: 11 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Count of Monte Cristo." Who is your hero? Borgs. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Lowkey apples tho.
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    Adam WainwrightDec 5, 2023 at 5:47 pm

    This was a great tribute! Thank you Will Gonsior! Seems like you might have a future in writing to me!!!

    -waino

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