Tim Wakefield, an integral part of two Red Sox World Series Championship teams in 2004 and 2007, passed away on October 1. He was 57.
Red Sox Legend Tim Wakefield Passes Away at 57
Tim Wakefield meant a lot to Red Sox Nation, not just on the field but off of it as well. Wakefield played 17 seasons in Boston. The knuckleballer won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2010 for his sportsmanship, service to the community, and dedication to his team. Wakefield worked with many charities including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which the Red Sox have partnered with since 1953.
Our hearts are broken with the loss of Tim Wakefield.
Wake embodied true goodness; a devoted husband, father, and teammate, beloved broadcaster, and the ultimate community leader. He gave so much to the game and all of Red Sox Nation.
Our deepest love and thoughts are with… pic.twitter.com/ah5kV2Yt8j
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 1, 2023
Wakefield, a native of Melbourne, Florida who attended The Florida Institute of Technology, was the team’s two-time MVP as a first baseman. He was drafted in the eighth round of the 1988 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Realizing that making it to the major leagues as a first baseman was not realistic, Wakefield began to work on his knuckleball and was called up to the majors in 1992. He helped the Pirates to the National League Championship Series that same year, where they eventually lost to the Atlanta Braves.
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) October 1, 2023
Named the Opening Day starter for the Pirates in 1993, Wakefield walked nine batters in that game. Afterward, he was sent back down to Double-A. He was later recalled by the Pirates in September. Wakefield finished the 1993 season with a combined record of 6-11 with a 5.61 ERA. The following season was even worse, as Wakefield played primarily at Triple-A Buffalo. Down there, Wakefield led the league in home runs, losses, and walks. Despite the terrible statistics, the Pirates recalled him in September of 1994, just before that year’s player strike. During spring training in 1995, the Pirates released Wakefield.
A Legend is Born
The Red Sox signed Wakefield to their Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. As injuries to Boston’s starting rotation began to stockpile, Wakefield was called up to the big league club. He ended the 1995 season with a record of 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA. Wakefield finished third in Cy Young Award voting that year en route to helping the Red Sox win the American League East title. While an integral part of helping the team win the AL East, it was far from his only accomplishment on the field for the Sox. However, Wakefield would first have to encounter some heartache.
The Curse of the Bambino
The Red Sox had a 5-2 lead in game seven of the 2003 ALCS. Wakefield had won two of the three games the Red Sox had won to that point in the series as a starter. The Yankees erased the Red Sox’ lead in game seven, sending the game into extra innings. Wakefield was called in to pitch in the extra frames. After retiring the side in the 10th inning, he gave up a solo home run to Aaron Boone in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the Yankees to the World Series and sending the Red Sox out of the playoffs. The sting of that loss, however, would soon be forgotten by Wakefield and the rest of Red Sox Nation.
Just one year later in 2004, Wakefield would help the Red Sox erase a three-games-to-none deficit to those same Yankees in the ALCS, propelling the Red Sox to the World Series. There, they would break the 86-year Curse of the Bambino by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. Wakefield would once again help Boston to the 2007 playoffs. Despite being left off the roster because of a shoulder injury, the Sox went on a tear and swept the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 Fall Classic, making Wakefield a two-time World Series Champion.
Not Done Yet
In 2009, at the age of 42, after being the first starting pitcher to 10 wins in the American League, Wakefield was named to his first All-Star team. Additionally, the next year, Wakefield was honored with the Roberto Clemente Award. It was his first win after being nominated seven times prior.
What a Career
Wakefield went on to finish his career ranked third in wins by a Red Sox pitcher with 200. He only trailed Cy Young and Roger Clemens. He also finished second all-time in strikeouts by a Red Sox pitcher with 2,046, again trailing only Clemens. Wakefield was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2016.
“He was what a Boston Red Sox should look like…Nobody wore his jersey with more pride than Tim Wakefield.”
Alex Cora on former teammate Tim Wakefield, who passed away this morning at the age of 57. pic.twitter.com/fqnazxplH0
— NESN (@NESN) October 1, 2023
Remembering Tim Wakefield
Tim Wakefield was more than just a baseball player. He was a father, a husband, a son, and a philanthropist. He tried to make the world a better place. It is moments like this that while fans will remember his contributions on the field (as they should), it is also important to realize the ones he made off the field were the ones that mattered most. Rest in peace to a Red Sox legend, who was an even better person. That is how Tim Wakefield should be remembered.