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Wainwright plays Hammons Field


Adam Wainwright touched down in Nashville Thursday, eager to immediately hop on a bus toward Springfield, Missouri.

“It’s always great coming back home… I love Springfield and I love the stadium there. They do a great job with the fans and the players,” the two-time World Series Champion pitcher told the Mail. “I feel like Cardinals country is home for me, and they always embrace me with love so I’m looking forward to this one.”

Though his kids attend Camp Kanakuk in Southwest Missouri and he raves about his visits in Branson, and he’s played many games on the mound at Hammons Field in Springfield, this trip back brings on a brand new experience – the first ever stand-alone concert on Hammons Field.

Wainwright capped his 18-year career as a professional baseball player last season. After 478 games, 2,668 and a third innings and 2,202 strikeouts, he decided he was ready to spend more time with family and hang up the cleats. During his last season, he shared behind the scenes snaps via Instagram of the numerous stadiums he was playing for the last time. Since he retired from baseball, Waino has been spending quite a bit of time writing and performing country music.

“As I got older, I realized all of the opportunities I got to play in these amazing venues and how little I took the time to appreciate the surroundings of these amazing places… I’d take walks around in my final season and go sit up in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, or go walk across the Green Monster at Fenway… All those things that are normal to a fan, players can sometimes take that for granted,” Wainwright explained. “In the few shows I’ve played this year, I find myself taking that extra time to walk around and soak it all in – Especially at the Opry. I don’t want to miss any of it.”

Amidst his final season, Wainwright was on a rehab assignment in Springfield when Dan Reiter, Springfield Cardinals Vice President and General Manager, approached him with the idea of a concert at Hammons Field.

Wainwright was thrilled by the potential of the event and said he’d love to be a part of it. The City of Springfield and Hatch Foundation partnered to bring Wainwright to Hammons Field for an outdoor concert.

In April, he debuted his first full-length album, “Hey Y’all” on all streaming platforms.

Fans at the Friday night concert in Springfield got a taste of many songs from the album. Gary Baker and Greg Barnhill, who accompany Wainwright onstage in the band, helped pen some of the songs.

“Gary Baker is infamous in country music,” Wainwright said as he rode alongside him on the trek to Springfield. “It’s been fun to transition from baseball to writing and performing with these incredible musicians. They’re teaching me a lot about the music game in general so I’m learning a lot from them and I’m having fun.”

Though he says he’s not a naturally nervous person, Wainwright claims he does feel a little more of the jitters in music.

“I’ve pitched on some pretty big stages. The bigger the crowd, the better,” he laughed. “I think that’s true of music also, but certainly a bit more pressure. Walking onto a stage is about as close of a thing as there is in the world to walking out on that mound.”

Several fans in the crowd Friday night had to wipe away tears as the headliner played “If You Would’ve Stayed,” a heartbreaking ballad written by Wainwright and Baker. The pair took their shared experience of their fathers walking out of their lives and put it into a song. The lyrics explore the idea of what his father would have thought of how he turned out, if he would have stayed.

The lyrics in the chorus begin, “You should’ve seen the first grade, should’ve seen the first home run I made, should have seen the way that my big brother stepped up to take your place… I can’t help but think how proud you’d be today, If you would’ve stayed.”

Wainwright said he was first influenced and drawn into the country music genre by Garth Brooks. He began listening to more George Strait, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Tracy Lawrence and Randy Travis and says that’s what he fell in love with.

“As I’ve gotten older, 90’s country is still the backbone of everything that I write with Greg or Gary and it’s the sound I like creating,” he added. “I’ve gotten close with a couple guys out there doing it right now like Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Craig Campbell and some others and they’ve taught me a lot as well. I just think being an artist is so cool. You create through writing and I don’t think there’s a cooler process than writing something… I think it’s just the most neat thing there is and feel lucky to be kind of taught by so many wonderful people. And I’ll keep learning.”

While he plans to be involved in Broadcast and the announcing world of baseball, he doesn’t see himself putting down his guitar anytime soon. He “definitely caught the itch” for songwriting.

“I think if you want to be good at anything in life, you gotta work at it. I’m loving working at this craft. It’s fun for me,” Wainwright said.

“I always look forward to getting back to that venue that I know so well and have played on numerous times. It feels like home… We’re thinking about doing some more minor league venue type stuff in the future, but it’s an honor to play Cardinals country.”


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