What was expected was made official yesterday afternoon, with the announcement of Chris Carpenter’s retirement. Even though we haven’t seen him pitch on a big league mound since October 2012 and attempt to pitch anywhere since July when he was in Memphis, it’s still a sad day.
But we all knew it was coming — probably no one as much as Chris himself.
That’s why it was great to see him with the team this season after his own comeback attempt ended in late July. He was there, on the road and at home, with his watchful gaze focused on his young teammates — here he is in Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, watching Joe Kelly — offering advice and encouragement and likely preparing for a coaching future. And what a crop of kids he had the chance to view up close and mentor this season.
Yet it certainly looked like he was just enjoying being part of a team one last time as a player too.
There were tweets from Derrick Goold and others about him taking grounders in the infield during batting practice. In Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, he was very much interested in just where the hot dogs the Parrot was shooting into the crowd ended up — as you can see here. (Yes, he really was that serious about watching flying hot dogs.) But even that was cool to see. Taking in the experiences, enjoying the moments especially since the Cards didn’t know then it wouldn’t be their last trip to PNC Park for the year. (And, yes, I did watch the game that day … but also obviously spent time watching Chris. How could I not? He was right there.)
Chris Carpenter is no doubt the player we’ve written most about here at AMF, and I already said much in a tribute to him following his ceremonial first pitch before Game Two of the NLDS against the Pirates in October in “On Chris Carpenter, Baseball Moments and Storybook Endings.”
So here’s a look back at some of his Cardinals highlights via pictures (yes, some you’ve seen before … perhaps many times!)
And thank you, Chris Carpenter, for giving your all to the game of baseball and to the St. Louis Cardinals. As John Mozeliak said yesterday, you really are one of the greatest the Cardinals have ever had.
Chris won the Cy Young Award in 2005, and threw out the ceremonial first pitch (along with That Guy Who Used to Play First Base, who was the 2005 MVP) on Opening Day 2006 at brand-new Busch Stadium.
One of his greatest games was on Labor Day 2009 in Milwaukee, as he threw a 99-pitch one-hit shutout — and here’s a look at that game and four other of his best. (For me, the best part about the game on Sept. 7, 2009, is that I was there — it was my first time seeing him pitch in person.)
This, of course, is the iconic shot from Chris Carpenter’s greatest performance, Game Five of the 2011 NLDS …
although some of us consider this to be the iconic shot from that night. (We will always love and remember you, Nick Punto!) Anyway, here’s the post about that game if you’re interested. (If you just want to look at this pic, understood.)
Yes, “shirtless Chris Carpenter” remains the most popular search term that has brought people to AMF …
Another memorable shot from October 2011, this one from Game One of the World Series.
And then there was the end results of that Series …
as he definitely shared the love.
Then came 2012, and the “season ending” surgery that brought about his comeback at Wrigley Field on Sept. 21 and a memorable game (even though the end is burned in my mind for all the wrong reasons — there’s nothing worse than sitting in the cold rain at Wrigley listening to “Go Cubs Go”) that began with this first pitch.
What a ride as a Cardinal. And we can always wonder what might have been if he’d been healthy all those years as a Redbird … Ah, well.
Here are a few more of CC.
Plus a few photos friends have taken …
Finally, there’s only one appropriate photo to end with.
Thank you, once again, Chris Carpenter for all you’ve done as a Cardinal.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.