Chris CarpenterFebruary 13. 2013 10:31PM
The former St. Louis Cardinals' right-handed ace pitcher Chris Carpenter is a native of Exeter, New Hampshire. He graduated from Trinity High School in 1993, where he earned Athlete-of-the-Year honors when he was a senior. Carpenter also captured the state championship in baseball in 1992.
He was a first-round draft pick out of Trinity, beginning his professional career in May 1997 with the Toronto Blue Jays, earning a spot in the starting rotation by July of that summer. He played well for two years, winning 49 games before becoming plagued with injuries, including a bone spur in his elbow, nerve damage in his right biceps and tendonitis in his shoulder. He would rehab over the next few years, bouncing back only slightly between injuries.
By December of 2002, Carpenter signed a one year, one million dollar contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. He missed most of the 2002 and 2003 seasons after having two shoulder operations, then rebounded in 2004 only to be sidelined with an injury in the post season. He was the Cardinals' best pitcher during the regular season, with a record of 15-5 and a 3.46 ERA, but didn't recover in time to pitch in the 2004 World Series against the Red Sox.
Carpenter was the starting pitcher for the Cardinals' Opening Day in April of 2005. He was a whole new pitcher that year, becoming a superstar and achieving a 2.83 ERA, a 21-5 record, and appearing in the All-Star Game. He won the Cy Young Award for 2005 and won his 100th career game on September 16, 2006. Pitching magnificently in the 2006 World Series, Chris helped to bring the team to the Championship for the first time since 1982. In Game 3, Carpenter shut out the Detroit Tigers 5-0 with a spectacular performance at the mound.
Chris was known for his 93-97 mile per hour fastball, a sweeping curve ball, a cutter and a changeup. His curve ball made hitters freeze in their tracks.
He re-signed with the Cardinals in December 2006. His 5-year, $65 million contract took him through 2011 with the team, with an option for a 6th year. As of 2009, Chris had the highest winning percentage in the Cardinals' history.
After that, Carpenter suffered with problems in his throwing arm. He only pitched in five games over the course of the past two seasons. In 2007, he underwent "Tommy John" surgery, a procedure that involved removing bone spurs in his right elbow. He tried to return to the game, but suffered a shoulder sprain that led to him being on the disabled list for most of the 2008 season. After a consultation with a specialist, Carpenter was told that he needed additional surgery to release a compressed nerve leading to his shoulder.
During a game on April 14, 2009, Carpenter left the game before the fourth inning after straining his left rib cage during a ground out to third base. An MRI revealed that he had an oblique tear on his left side He was placed on the 15-day disabled list. But the season would turn out well for him. He hit his first career home run, a grand slam, on October 1, and finished the game by bringing in six RBI's total, breaking another club record. He won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award, and unanimously won the 20th Annual Tony Conigliaro Award that year. The award is presented annually to a MLB player who has overcome a life-altering obstacle and continued to thrive despite the adversity. In Carpenter's case, he was given the award for his bout with elbow problems followed by Tommy John surgery, something that not all pitchers return from. Still, he returned in 2010 and completed the season with a 16-9 record and an overall 3.22 ERA.
Carpenter's ERA for 2011 was 3.45. He had 11 wins and 9 losses. In the post-season, Carpenter pitched a 3-hit shutout game giving the Cardinals the win in the the National League Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The ace pitcher pulled out all the stops in the 2011 World Series, winning two of the three games he pitched in, including Game 7, which he played on three days rest for only the second time in his career.
After only playing 3 games during the regular season following surgery to remove one of his ribs in an effort to alleviate pressure on the nerves that run into his right arm, Carpenter came back in his first post-season appearance to win a playoff game on October 10 against the Washington Nationals.
In February 2013, he started developing more pain and numbness in his throwing arm and called his GM to tell him he was unable to pitch. After going out on the disabled list, rumors began circulating about his retirement at the age of 38.
Although he was not expected to return, Carpenter was throwing as of May 2013. He did not pitch for the Cardinals at all during the season due to continued discomfort and numbness in his pitching hand. The St. Louis Cardinals made it to the World Series in 2013 and Chris, who was still on the roster, sat in as a part of the team even though he did not play.
On November 20, 2013, Carpenter announced his retirement from the game. Carpenter finished his 17-year major league career with a 144-94 record, an overall 3.76 ERA and 1,697 strikeouts in 2,219 1/3 innings.
Chris, his wife Alyson, son Sam and daughter Ava currently reside in Bedford.