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Adam Wainwright joins the four-timers club

Only five other Cardinals have taken the ball on Opening Day as often as Wainwright.

Maker of Wagons.
Maker of Wagons.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

When Adam Wainwright takes the mound at the construction site on the corner of Clark & Addison in Chicago, it will be his fourth time as the Cardinals Opening Day starter. That puts him in pretty hallowed ground in the history of the organization, and only one away from truly entering the Inner Sanctum of Opening Day Starters.

Now some are quick to point out that Opening Day is just like any of the other 161 games in the season, but those people probably hate Christmas, too. Being selected for Opening Day may not necessarily mean anything in and of itself, but it's not like managers are going out of their way to NOT pick the best guy on the staff.

In the last 101 years, 52 different pitchers have gotten the nod on Opening Day for the club. But the only ones to do it as often as Wainwright are:

Bob Gibson


Dizzy Dean


Chris Carpenter


Bob Forsch


Flint Rhem


Adam Wainwright


No surprise to see the best pitcher in Cardinals history at the top. Gibson started his first Opening Day in 1965, then did the same every season from 1967 - 1975. The team went 5-4-1. That's right, there was a tie. Gibson's first Opening Day Start, at Wrigley Field in 1965, was called due to darkness after 11 innings.

Dean and Carpenter are next on the list with five Opening Day's each. Whereas Gibson spent his entire career in St. Louis, both Dean and Carpenter only played six full seasons with the team (though an injured Carpenter bulldogged a few starts in several partial seasons.)

In fact, in 2007, Carpenter's only outing of the year was Opening Night. He took the mound in a rematch of the previous year's classic NLCS vs. the Mets. It was a special moment - the parade of Cardinal greats, the raising of a new World Champion's banner. Billy Bob Thornton was there. But Carp only went six rough innings, giving up five runs, then tore his UCL. It was a metaphor for the season to come.

Bob Forsch was never an all-star, but he was steady enough to earn four starts in his 15-year Cardinal career. Flint Rhem also made four starts in the ten years he spent with the Cardinals, over three tours. Rhem finished 8th in the MVP voting in 1926, when he won 20 games, but advanced stats are not kind to him. That season he posted a 3.85 FIP and only 2.5 WAR. For his entire career as a Cardinal, he was worth about half a win less than Shelby Miller.

Position Players

An Opening Day start as a position player is probably more indicative of one's status with the team than for a pitcher, though because of injuries and other variables, there are still oddities. Daniel Descalso started two Opening Days. Shawon Dunston started one in left field.

Among the notables:

Stan Musial - not surprisingly - has the most Opening Day starts with 21. They were spread across four positions: Ten in left, five in right, five at first base and one in center field.

Pepper Martin matched Musial by playing at four different positions in his seven years as an Opening Day starter. He was penciled in at third base and all three outfield positions. Wally Moon also managed to start at four different positions - first base and all the outfield positions - in just five years with the club.

Lou Brock had the most starts at a single position, with 14 in left field. Thirteen of those came in a row, also a record, broken up by one year when he played in right field.