September 14, 2022: Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina set new battery record with 325th start together

On the day they set a record more than 15 years in the making, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina were determined not to come up short.

On September 14, 2022, Wainwright and Molina, both age 40, broke a major-league record even older than they were. With their 325th start together, they topped the 324 games in which pitcher Mickey Lolich and catcher Bill Freehan started for the Tigers from 1963 through 1975.

Together, the Cardinals’ battery had 36 years of major-league experience, all with the Cardinals. Molina made his debut in 2004, then became the team’s starting catcher the following year, a position he held for 18 years. Over that span, he earned 10 all-star nods, nine Gold Glove awards, four Platinum Gloves, and a Silver Slugger Award.

Wainwright made his big-league debut one season after Molina. Acquired in a 2003 trade with the Braves, the 6-foot-7 righthander appeared in relief twice in 2005, then became a key part of the Cardinals’ bullpen in 2006, famously striking out Carlos Beltran to end the 2006 NLCS and send the Cardinals to the World Series.

In 2007, the Cardinals inserted Wainwright into the starting rotation. On April 6, 2007, with Molina starting at catcher, he won his first major-league start. Fifteen years, 194 wins, and three all-star selections later, Wainwright and Molina were poised to make history with a late-season home game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

It hadn’t been an easy path. Wainwright had missed the entire 2011 season with Tommy John surgery. In 2015, he tore his Achilles tendon, and following elbow surgery at the end of the 2017 season, he looked as though he might nearing the end of his career. In the COVID-shortened 2020, however, he returned to form, and in 2021 he placed seventh in the Cy Young Award voting with a 17-7 record and 3.05 ERA.

Meanwhile, reports indicated that Molina was considering retiring ahead of 2022. The opportunity to break the battery record with Wainwright not only convinced him to come back for one more year, but also convinced him to return from a June knee injury that kept him out of the lineup until August.[1]

Wainwright and Molina received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 46,459 when they emerged from the bullpen for their record-setting start. Brewers leadoff hitter Christian Yelich, the 2018 National League MVP, dug into the batter’s box as Wainwright, a veteran of 387 career starts and more than 2,500 major-league innings, battled to maintain his poise.

“It was a lot to manage, early on,” Wainwright said. “The crowd was so awesome, making me get constant chills and tearing up. (I) was trying to manage my adrenaline because it wanted to go through the roof.”[2]

Wainwright officially made history with an 87.2 mph sinker.[3] Yelich never moved.

“I had no intention of swinging at the first pitch, you know,” he said. “They deserve that moment, that respect to have that ball. You allow them to have that ball and do whatever they want with it, rather than, you know, swinging at it and who knows what happens. Just wanted to make sure that they had the ball.”[4]

Having safely landed in Molina’s mitt, the ball was returned to the Cardinals dugout for authentication.

“I thought that was a really classy move,” Wainwright said. “You could tell he was going to give that to us.”[5]

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch later reported that Wainwright requested the ball be cut exactly in half – one for him and one for Molina.[6]

“It’s probably cooler for me than Yadi,” Wainwright said. “He has so many cool things. Next to the Roberto Clemente Award, this is probably the coolest thing of my career.”[7]

“Such a great feeling, just to reach that number,” said Molina. “To be at the top of that list. Such a great feeling.”[8]

Of course, before Wainwright and Molina could celebrate, they had a game to play. After Wainwright struck out Yelich, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez followed with one-out singles. Former Cardinal Kolten Wong then drew a two-out walk to load the bases.

“I thought, ‘I’m getting out of this because we’re supposed to win today,’” Wainwright said. “Usually I feel like I’m going to get out of it anyways, but I really felt like I’m getting out of this because we’re supposed to win today, and we did.”[9]

On a 1-and-1 pitch, Wainwright got Andrew McCutchen to hit a ground ball back to him. Disaster averted.

The Brewers got to Wainwright for a run in the second inning when center fielder Tyrone Taylor hit a sacrifice fly to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead. An inning later, the Cardinals took the lead with two runs off Corbin Burnes, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner. Nolan Arenado opened the second inning with a solo home run, and after Brendon Donovan and Alec Burleson each singled, Molina punched a single into left field to score Donovan.

Center fielder Lars Nootbaar made the score 3-1 in the fifth inning with a solo home run. When the Cardinals took the field for the sixth, Andre Pallante took the mound. Wainwright had thrown five innings, allowing one run on eight hits and two walks.

St. Louis maintained its two-run lead until the eighth, when Albert Pujols, the other member of the Cardinals’ over-40 club, doubled to score Tyler O’Neill. With the run driven in, Pujols, who was only three short of his 700th career homer, joined Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth as the only players with 2,200 RBIs.

“Seems like every day he passes them or comes up next to them or ties one of those legendary hitters,” Wainwright said. “He’s in that class.”[10]

Following scoreless innings from Pallante, Jordan Hicks, and Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley took the mound in the ninth inning. The all-star closer worked around a two-out single from Tellez to seal the win.

“We had the mindset ready to win this game, no matter what,” Molina said. “And that’s what we did.”[11]

The win was Wainwright’s 11th of the season and the 195th of his career. Of his 2,548 career innings, Molina caught 2,136 (83.8%).[12]

After the game, the Cardinals toasted Wainwright and Molina with custom bottles of champagne with the number “325” on the sides. Team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, and manager Oliver Marmol each said a few words, and then the longest-tenured battery in baseball history was tossed into laundry baskets and doused with Cherry Coke, Sprite, and any other liquids their teammates could obtain.

“You see me, right?” Wainwright said at the postgame news conference, his Cardinals hoodie drenched. “Do I look wet? I’m wet. I am soaked. A whole bunch of nasty stuff you don’t want on your head, but it’s a pretty sweet taste.”[13]

Marmol, who at age 36 was four years younger than Wainwright and Molina, noted that he was drafted by the Cardinals out of the College of Charlston the year the duo made their first start together.

“A lot has taken place in that time span,” Marmol said. “That’s why I don’t see anyone coming close to touching it ever again. When you can be in the record book and know that it’s not going to be touched? Just to be able to have the career that Yadi’s had behind the plate with the same team – that’s a lot of years catching – and then Waino being able to come close to matching him on years? Just to do it together for 325, it’s definitely meaningful.”[14]

Post-Dispatch columnist Jeff Gordon agreed.

“It’s hard to imagine anybody topping the new mark Wainwright and Molina are setting together,” he wrote. “How many high-end pitchers and catchers will keep pushing their physical limitations? And how often will an elite tandem spend so much time playing together?”[15]

Fellow columnist Benjamin Hochman summed it up: “A kid from Georgia and a kid from Puerto Rico have become eternal St. Louisans, representing and encapsulating the pride of the Cardinals, the bond of friends, the passion for winning, and the fun that can be had along the way.”[16]

Wainwright and Molina combined for three more starts together to finish with 328. At season’s end, Molina retired, concluding a 19-year major-league career that included 2,224 games. Along the way, he had appeared in 10 all-star games and helped lead the Cardinals to two World Series championships.

After the season, Wainwright announced that the 2023 campaign would be his final major-league season.


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[1] Derrick Goold, “A curve, a keepsake, Cherry Coke: How Cards battery made history,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 16, 2022.

[2] Jesse Rogers, “St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34594137/st-louis-cardinals-adam-wainwright-yadier-molina-make-record-325th-start-battery.

[3] Derrick Goold, “A curve, a keepsake, Cherry Coke: How Cards battery made history,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 16, 2022.

[4] Derrick Goold, “A curve, a keepsake, Cherry Coke: How Cards battery made history,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 16, 2022.

[5] Jesse Rogers, “St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34594137/st-louis-cardinals-adam-wainwright-yadier-molina-make-record-325th-start-battery.

[6] Derrick Goold, “A curve, a keepsake, Cherry Coke: How Cards battery made history,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 16, 2022.

[7] Jesse Rogers, “St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34594137/st-louis-cardinals-adam-wainwright-yadier-molina-make-record-325th-start-battery.

[8] Jesse Rogers, “St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34594137/st-louis-cardinals-adam-wainwright-yadier-molina-make-record-325th-start-battery.

[9] Jesse Rogers, “St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34594137/st-louis-cardinals-adam-wainwright-yadier-molina-make-record-325th-start-battery.

[10] Jesse Rogers, “St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34594137/st-louis-cardinals-adam-wainwright-yadier-molina-make-record-325th-start-battery.

[11] Jesse Rogers, “St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34594137/st-louis-cardinals-adam-wainwright-yadier-molina-make-record-325th-start-battery.

[12] Jesse Rogers, “St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina make record 325th start as battery,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34594137/st-louis-cardinals-adam-wainwright-yadier-molina-make-record-325th-start-battery.

[13] Derrick Goold, “A curve, a keepsake, Cherry Coke: How Cards battery made history,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 16, 2022.

[14] Benjamin Hochman, “Duo’s bond extends to Cards fans,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 15, 2022.

[15] Jeff Gordon, “Wainwright, Molina turn back clock,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 14, 2022.

[16] Benjamin Hochman, “Duo’s bond extends to Cards fans,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 15, 2022.