ST. LOUIS — One of St. Louis' favorite people celebrated a birthday Wednesday. Yadier Molina turned 40.
The beloved catcher is still junior to teammates and close friends Albert Pujols, 42, and Adam Wainright, who will turn 41 in August.
The trio announced their retirements following the 2022 season. They are all chasing records, Pujols trying to reach 700 career home runs, and Yadi and Waino trying to set an all-time battery record.
Molina and Wainright sit in second place in the record books with 316 games started together. They trail Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan who had 324 starts with the Detroit Tigers between 1963 and 1975.
The record would be hard-won, as Molina has been out on IL since June 15. Molina is battling knee inflammation and was recovering in Puerto Rico.
Manager Oliver Marmol said Molina was set to return to the Cardinals in early August.
Molina has shaped the Cardinals organization for the better on and off the field. Here's a look at some of his biggest moments through the years.
June 3, 2004
Molina makes his MLB debut. He would go on to throw out 50% of would-be base stealers in his inaugural season. The Cardinals would drop the World Series that season.
It's Game 7 of the NCLS. The New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals are 1-1 in the top of the ninth. Molina is a bat in front of a home crowd. He hits a two-run home run, pulling the Cardinals ahead.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Wainright and Molina keep Carlos Beltrán at bay with unconventional pitch calls and incredible trust between them. Beltrán strikes out and the Cardinals win.
The Cardinals would go on to defeat the Tigers in the World Series.
Molina is an All-Star in 2009
St. Louis hosted the All-Star Game, and Molina was voted in as a fan favorite.
April 5, 2010
Yadi hits an Opening Day grand slam.
Molina's bat and catching helped the Cardinals win the World Series. He was awarded his fourth Gold Glove.
Molina had one of his most dominant seasons on offense, with a .315 batting average and 22 home runs. He raked in the awards and his performance was lauded nationally.
2017 World Baseball Classic season
Playing for Puerto Rico, Molina helped his team reach the finals with a .333 BA. He was named the Pool F MVP. In the semifinal, he did what he was known for and picked off runners off base. Puerto Rico dropped the final to the United States.
Molina was a respected leader among the coaching staff and was allowed to advise on pitching.
September 20, 2017
Hurricane Maria slammed into Molina's native Puerto Rico. Yadi and his wife, Maria, created relief efforts for victims of the natural disaster. He was named a recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award the next year.
October 7, 2019
It's the NDLS in St. Louis against the Braves, Game 4. Molina is at the plate after Paul Goldschmidt was intentionally walked in the 10th inning. Molina hit a deep fly ball, bringing in Kolten Wong and winning the game on a walk-off.
The world was sent into a tailspin when the pandemic set in. Once baseball resumed in July, Molina made history as the catcher with the most consecutive Opening Day starts.
The final season
Molina announced that 2022 will be his final season in baseball. Molina was able to step up to the mound and closed an 18-4 win over the Pirates as a pitcher.