Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, known for his unpredictable knuckleball, passed away at the age of 57 after battling brain cancer. Wakefield played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), spending most of his career with the Red Sox. He is third on the team’s list for career wins, just six short of the record held by Cy Young and Roger Clemens. Wakefield was also recognized for his charitable work and received MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award in 2010 for his contributions to charities assisting needy children. Red Sox principal owner John Henry praised Wakefield’s kindness and indomitable spirit, stating that his legacy extended beyond the record books to the countless lives he touched.
Wakefield’s journey to becoming a pitcher began when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1988 as a first baseman. However, he decided to switch to pitching and developed the knuckleball delivery to enhance his chances of reaching the majors. The knuckleball is a pitch thrown without spin, making it difficult for batters to hit and catchers to corral due to its unpredictable flight caused by air conditions and currents. Wakefield’s mastery of this pitch propelled him to the majors, and he joined the Pirates in 1992, posting an 8-1 record. However, he lost control of the knuckleball and was released by Pittsburgh.
After a successful season with Boston’s Triple-A minor league team, Wakefield made his mark with the Red Sox in 1995. He had an impressive record of 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA, which may have been his best season. Although he never reached those heights again, Wakefield remained a valuable player for the Red Sox, contributing to their World Series victories in 2004 and 2007. He also served as a relief pitcher throughout his career. Wakefield retired in 2012 with a career record of 200-180 and a 4.41 earned run average.
MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred expressed his sadness over Wakefield’s passing, highlighting his unique pitching style and his significant contributions to the Red Sox. Wakefield’s knuckleball allowed him to excel as a rookie with the Pirates and establish a memorable 17-year tenure with the Red Sox. His impact on the game will be remembered forever.
The loss of Tim Wakefield is deeply felt, as he was one of the most distinctive pitchers of his generation and played a crucial role in the Red Sox’s most successful era.
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