When news spread that Chris Carpenter might be retiring, both the city of St. Louis and the baseball world were shocked.
This is a man who seemed invincible, persevering through so much. Last time we saw him, he was pitching just two months after undergoing major surgery to remove a rib.
It doesn't get any more hardcore than that.
If he is in fact done, then he will ride off into the sunset a mere 10 strikeouts short of second place on the Cardinals’ all-time list and with the franchise record for postseason win percentage. But what’s even more notable than his on-field performance was his leadership in the clubhouse.
He will always be considered one of the Cardinal greats, so while we all wonder what’s next for the ace, let’s take a look at his five greatest moments while wearing the cardinal perched on a bat.
Carpenter in his pre-Cardinal days.
It may sound strange, but one of Carpenter’s biggest feats as a Cardinal was getting signed at all.
At the end of the 2002 season, the Blue Jays were not too pleased with Carpenter’s injury prone ways, resolving instead to offer him a minor league deal and to remove him from the 40-man roster. He, of course, elected free agency.
The rest is history.
The Cardinals took a risk and signed him, knowing he would not be ready for the 2003 season, but it paid off in 2004 and beyond.
No other moment on this list could have happened without the Cardinals believing in Carpenter back in 2003.
Chris Carpenter makes his long-awaited 2012 debut against the rival Chicago Cubs.
Speaking of comebacks, did I mention that last season he pitched without a rib?
Everyone thought Carpenter was done when it was announced he was having “season-ending” surgery in late July of last year. Little did they know, Carpenter never called it quits himself and made an unprecedented and frankly ridiculous return to the mound in September.
Watching Carpenter push through the pain for his team was a moment that really defined who he is as a player.
Carpenter celebrates his World Series win.
Every pitcher’s dream is to play in Game 7 of the World Series. It’s baseball's biggest stage—you can’t get more of a rush than that.
Carpenter was already a postseason legend for the Cardinals with an incredible 6-2 record, and his series already included a phenomenal and memorable play at first base during Game 1. But when he stepped on the mound that night on just three days rest, his place in World Series history was cemented.
And stay tuned, it sounds like the numbers six and two were pretty important that night:
Six innings and two runs later, the game was left to the bullpen, and the Cardinals were able to pull off the World Series win.
What better moment could you ask for in the majors?
Carpenter with catcher Yadier Molina in his 2005 Cy Young season.
Remember when I mentioned the Cardinals took a risk signing Carpenter in 2003?
Just two years later, he was crowned with pitching’s highest honor.
Being named the best pitcher in the league is not something to be taken lightly and was a hallmark moment of Carpenter’s career as a whole.
Carpenter after his NLDS shutout, the picture of triumph.
If his Cy Young was a hallmark moment of Carpenter's career, then Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS must have been the pinnacle.
He was near perfect and he needed to be.
His counterpart on the mound was longtime friend, fellow former Blue Jay and fellow Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.
Years from now when we remember Chris Carpenter, we will remember that scream when he was victorious.
We’ll remember this moment.