ST. LOUIS — For the first time in 18 years, the St. Louis Cardinals will have a new face behind the plate on opening day.
Yadier Molina has been the Cardinals' opening-day catcher since the 2005 Major League Baseball season. The future Hall of Famer retired after 19 seasons alongside longtime friend and teammate Albert Pujols in 2022.
Molina left big shoes not only behind the plate but also in the hearts of the fans in St. Louis after nearly two decades of dominance.
In an attempt to fill those shoes, the Cardinals signed former Chicago Cub Willson Contreras to a five-year deal over the offseason.
In a press conference after signing with the team in December 2022, Contreras shared that Molina was an idol of his.
“He’s the best catcher of the last two decades, a future Hall of Famer, first ballot,” Contreras said. “He set the bar really high. He was my idol, I won’t lie. It’s an honor to succeed a Hall of Famer behind the plate. It’s a big responsibility which I take. I know every time I step on the field I will do my 110 percent to win that day."
The Cardinals are set to take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, March 30 at Busch Stadium for opening day. Contreras shared on Wednesday a special way he will honor his idol, Yadier Molina.
He revealed custom-made shoes to honor Molina that features the saying "RESPECT 4" across the heel and side and an arch.
"This is a huge responsibility because we know what he did for the Cardinals, and for baseball," Contreras said. "I have nothing but respect for Yadi."
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