Sam Masterson (@sammasterson22)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Injured or not, Adam Wainwright has been a major factor in every aspect of the St. Louis Cardinals success since 2006. He has closed out a World Series, started an All-Star Game and has brought joy to St. Louis fans since he first dawned the birds on the bat as a 23-year-old.

To celebrate his 36th birthday, we could look back at his most memorable performances on the field. But you already know about his career, with 10 complete-game shutouts, four seasons as a top-3 Cy Young contender and the countless playoff moments.

So we’ll look at how important he is to the Cardinals and the city of St. Louis, off the field:

Forecasted the Cardinals 2011 Comeback

On August 24, the Cardinals were 10 1/2 games out of the Wild Card race. They had been swept by the Dodgers. The season was slipping away. Then, Wainwright told a room full of teammates, media and fans, how the Cards would comeback and win a World Series.

He was speaking at Cauliflower Ear Dinner, at the Missouri Athletic Club and was out that entire season due to Tommy John Surgery. But he apparently knew better than anyone what the Cardinals could do. Our Tom Ackerman was interviewing on stage, here’s the story from his perspective:

“I’m doing really great,” Wainwright said on that August night.  “I’m hoping these boys will hold on and play some great baseball down the stretch, so I can try to talk Tony (La Russa) into letting me pitch too early.

“I know I can help this team win when I’m pitching. But I also know I can help this team when I’m not pitching, too.”

I held the microphone and looked at Wainwright. He kept going.

“It’s one of those things where it’s a lot easier when you’re winning,” he told the audience, which was hanging on every word at this point. “Right now, it’s not easy for anyone because we’re not winning.  This city deserves us to win and we want to win.”

Then Wainwright delivered the rationale for believing the Cardinals could still do it.

“The way I look at it, we play the Brewers six more times.  Yeah, we’re down ten games now.  But if we beat them all six times, we’re down four games.

“I don’t think anybody in their right mind would be comfortable ahead of us, only up four games,” Wainwright said.  “So we’ve got a great chance, because no one expects us to come back and win. We have a greater chance to do it, because nobody is expecting it.

“We’ve proven it before that we can surprise people.  And we have the people that can do it.”

Since that day, the Cardinals went 30-13. Became National League Champions. Then, beat the Texas Rangers in a seven-game World Series.

When He Told St. Louis How He Felt

On March 27, 2013, Wainwright agreed to a five-year $97.5 million contract extension. Then he tried as hard as he could to not cry at the press conference.

“I feel like my heart is in St. Louis,” said Wainwright. “I love it there. I love driving to the field, seeing the arch, driving up and seeing Busch Stadium. It’s a treat to work there every day and is something that continues to catch me off-guard. It makes me feel like I am way too blessed, more than I deserve.

“Usually, I’m not at a loss for words. But the city of St. Louis means so much to me that it’s taking me a little bit to get it out.”

He spoke to Ackerman after making that announcement:

Being a “Stud in every sense of the word”

Wainwright isn’t a Texas native, but has jumped in to help the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts as if it was his home town.

When his teammate Matt Carpenter pledged $10,000 for every home run he hits the rest of this season, Wainwright decided to double it. That, the Cardinals tripled it, and Carpenter already has hit one out.

Brining His Teammates & Fans Together For Great Causes

For the last five years Wainwright has gathered some of his teammates and fans together to participate in a fantasy football league. It’s part of Big League Impact, which has raised more than $1 million for Cardinals Care, Operation Food Search of St. Louis, Crisis Aid International and Big League Impact’s Global Initiative Fund.

But he doesn’t just play fantasy football, he goes on mission trips to Haiti with Big League Impact, and sometimes brings his teammates:

He has found way to mix entertainment and charity, case and point being his Karaoke Challenge.

It seems like he can do it all.

Purchases Rental Car For Minor Leaguer at Spring Training

It’s the perfect “pay it forward” example. Cardinals minor league pitcher, Ryan Sherriff, was walking to work everyday at Spring Training this year, and Wainwright saw an opportunity to help a young player, just like Mark Mulder once did for him.

After offering Sherriff a bicycle, which the reliever appreciatively declined, Wainwright asked traveling secretary C.J. Cherre to get Sheriff a rented car. Wainwright took care of the bill.

“That’s the kind of thing that happened to me when I was younger,” Wainwright said. “I remember I wore a couple of tired collared shirts in a row to the field and Mark Mulder bought me a whole box of collared shirts.”

In return, Sherriff bought him a Chick-Fil-A gift card, some ice tea and BBQ sauce.

Being the Clubhouse Clown

This one is just a bonus, because technically a lot of these things happen on the field, or near it. We could make an entirely new post with just this hilarious GIF’s Waino doing his thing:

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