Adam Wainwright morphs into Country Music Performer After Cardinals game

Adam Wainwright morphs into Country Music Performer After Cardinals game

Cardinals fans may have thought the last pitch of Adam Wainwright’s career was that curveball he threw to Milwaukee Brewer Josh Donaldson in the seventh inning of the Sept. 18 game that would mark his 200th career win.

Turns out, he had one more in him.

Following the Cardinals’ 15-6 thrashing of the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night at Busch Stadium, Wainwright pitched himself as a fledgling country singer to the game’s 39,923 attendees, most of whom stuck around for and responded enthusiastically to his three-song postgame concert and fireworks display.

Performing from the batter’s eye area in center field and backed by two friends who are accomplished music-industry professionals, Wainwright sang “Hey Y’all,” “A Song Will Bring You Back” and “It’s Time to Fly” from a forthcoming album that, along with broadcasting, looks to be another post-baseball career pursuit.

Before Saturday night’s performance — and excepting his opening day singing of the national anthem at Busch — the biggest crowd he had ever sung for was 800 people, Wainwright said in a dugout interview before the game.

“If I botch (the performance), it’s because of nerves,” he added.

He did just fine.

“Today, you’re going to hear some songs from us,” he told the crowd. “These are my stories; this is real stuff.”

Dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans and a camouflage cap (which he later swapped for a red Cardinals hat), Wainwright’s performance was bolstered by his songwriting collaborators Gary Baker and Greg Barnhill on guitars and by backing tracks that added fiddle and drums to the mix. The rocking “Hey Y’all” and the more wistful “A Song Will Bring You Back” are of a piece with the fare typically heard on country radio these days. “It’s Time to Fly” paid tribute to Cardinals fans, which the lyrics claim “are one of a kind.”

That song is aimed “directly at Cardinals nation and my pending retirement” he said earlier. Wainwright, who grew up in Georgia, described “Hey Y’all” as being “about growing up in the South ... little things that you do in the South, opening doors for people, sitting up straight, using manners, (saying) ‘Yes ma’am’ and ‘No ma’am.’”

Regarding “A Song Will Bring You Back,” he said, “There are songs in everyone’s life, when you hear it, it takes you back to a specific moment in your life. There are a couple of big songs, (Alabama’s) ‘Dixieland Delight’ and (Brooks & Dunn’s) ‘Neon Moon’ that take me back to big, turning-point moments for me. So it’s a song about that.”

Wainwright’s collaborators, Baker and Barnhill, are songwriters and producers he met through Baker’s son Ryan when the two took part in impromptu guitar pulls at Matt Holliday’s house one spring training. Gary Baker’s songs include All-4-One’s Grammy-winning “I Swear” (also famously recorded by country star John Michael Montgomery), while Barnhill co-wrote Trisha Yearwood and Don Henley’s “Walkaway Joe,” among others.

Initially, Wainwright’s only goal was to write a few songs he could sing around the campfire. But he started writing down melodies and key phrases he heard, and eventually, they blossomed into something more substantial. He ran them by some of his friends in country music, including — watch out for the incoming name drop — Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell and Craig Campbell.

“I was like, ‘Be brutally honest. What do you think?’” he said, “and they were like, ‘Dude this is pretty good. Where did this come from?’ And I said, ‘I’m a starting pitcher. I only work once every five days.’”

Wainwright, Baker and Barnhill co-wrote the 17 songs that Wainwright recorded at the NuttHouse Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Fourteen or 15 of them, he said, will wind up on an album he plans to release next year.

The three songs he performed at the stadium are available now at A QR code linking to the site was on the souvenir Wainwright guitars passed out at Sunday’s game.

The idea of having him sing some of his songs at Busch “was the Cardinals’ idea,” he said. “I agreed to it right away.”

During the performance, Wainwright may have overpromised a bit, claiming the 2024 Cardinals will bring home a 12th World Series championship. That remains to be seen. But he seemed sincerely moved in telling the crowd: “I love you all so much. I’m so proud to be a St. Louis Cardinal for this long. I’m so proud that the biggest (music) show of my life to this point ... is right here at Busch Stadium and my home. I love this place.”


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