MLB Opening Day: Adam Wainwright begins final season by singing national anthem

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 16: Starter Adam Wainwright #50 celebrates after throwing a complete game against the Miami Marlins at Busch Stadium on July 16, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Adam Wainwright: pitcher/singer. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Adam Wainwright already played for the United States in the World Baseball Classic, but he found a different way to represent his country on Opening Day.

The St. Louis Cardinals veteran, who intends to retire after this season, sang the national anthem before his team's opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Introduced by the Busch Stadium announcer as "one of the most up-and-coming singers from right here in St. Louis" and accompanied by acoustic guitars, Wainwright received an adoring reaction from the crowd.

The Cardinals followed Wainwright's performance by having former third baseman Scott Rolen, freshly elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, throw the ceremonial first pitch.

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Wainwright was supposed to be the Cardinals' Opening Day starter, but he begins the season on the 15-day injured list due to a groin strain he sustained while working out with Team USA during the WBC. Right-hander Miles Mikolas got the honor instead, but the Cardinals apparently still wanted to feature Wainwright on Thursday.

At 41 years old, Wainwright is the third-oldest player in MLB this season, behind only Rich Hill (42) and Nelson Cruz (42). His 18 continuous seasons with the Cardinals represent the longest active streak in MLB.

The Cardinals brought Wainwright back on a one-year, $17.5 million deal for this season after a solid 2022 campaign in which he posted a 3.71 ERA, 1.283 WHIP and 143 strikeouts in 191.2 innings.