Rethwisch 'Cowboys up' to back Cards

Rethwisch 'Cowboys up' to back Cards

Rethwisch 'Cowboys up' to back Cards
Much like the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, Carter Rethwisch won't let injuries, naysayers or adversity stand in his way.

Rethwisch, 39, is known around Busch Stadium as the "Cardinal Cowboy," and for good reason. Adorned with a red Cardinals cowboy hat -- the same hat his father brought home in 1982 and made famous by Auggie Busch -- a white jersey and baseball pants, Rethwisch proudly plays the part.

But while many fans have come to know and love the "Cardinal Cowboy" over the years -- his website has gotten 3 million hits since 2006 -- few know the story behind the man.

On a seemingly harmless night when he was 19, Rethwisch and friends were hit by a drunk driver on their way home to visit family in St. Louis. After the accident, he fell into a week-long coma.

His dreams of becoming a professional baseball player ended that night, but not his spirit. The confidence and determination that Rethwisch honed on baseball diamonds as a kid helped him through five years of rehabilitation, and got him back on his feet.

Now, the "Cardinal Cowboy" visits grade schools and fundraisers, delivering his message of perseverance.

"Believe in yourself, never give up, you never quit, you never stop until you get where you want because even if you don't immediately succeed, you'll learn a lot along the way and it will direct you toward what you want to be," Rethwisch says.

Through it all, his love for baseball and for the Cardinals never wavered. Today, he's simply happy to pass along his story to the next generation, and don his cowboy get-up at about 30 Cards home games each year.

"You have a different perspective on life after you've been through a coma, and a drunk driver, and near death," Rethwisch said. "You tend to not worry about what people think as much and you go out and enjoy life."

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.