“Tim Wakefield has an exceptional place in Red Sox history and lore,” said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. “He has made more starts and pitched more innings than any other pitcher in our history. What’s more, his sense of sacrifice and his team-first attitude were pivotal in our stunning comeback to win the 2004 pennant and the historic World Series Championships that followed.
“Yet, when it comes to Tim Wakefield, we will remember with equal regard his extraordinary devotion to the Franciscan Hospital for Children in Boston, the Space Coast Early Intervention Center in his hometown of Melbourne, Florida, and his tireless fundraising for Pitching In For Kids, the Jimmy Fund, and the Red Sox Foundation. Those contributions, which earned him Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award in 2010, mean as much to us as his many memorable moments in our joyous championship seasons.”
“For 17 years, Tim Wakefield has been the Red Sox rock of consistency,” said President/CEO Larry Lucchino. “Reliable, available, and versatile, his contributions to this franchise are innumerable. Each of us can name a “Wakefield Moment” that touches our heart. He is as much a part of our storied history as any player who has worn the Red Sox uniform. We thank him and salute him.”
Wakefield, 45, owns a 200-180 record with 22 saves, a 4.41 ERA (1,582 ER/3,226.1 IP) and 2,156 strikeouts in 627 career Major League outings, including 463 starts, with Pittsburgh (1992-93) and Boston (1995-2011). The right-hander has been a member of the Red Sox Major League team for the last 17 seasons, the longest tenure in club history by a pitcher and four years longer than any other hurler. Only Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons), Dwight Evans (19) and Ted Williams (19) have played at least as many seasons with Boston as Wakefield. The Red Sox reached postseason play nine times during his period with the club, including World Series Championships in 2004 and 2007.
Wakefield owns all-time Red Sox records with 430 starts and 3,006.0 innings pitched. He ranks second in franchise annals with 590 pitching appearances and 2,046 strikeouts, behind Bob Stanley (637 games) and Roger Clemens (2,590 strikeouts), and is third in club history with 186 wins, trailing only Clemens and Cy Young (192 each). Last season, he became the oldest player ever to appear in a game for the Red Sox. Wakefield is also the all-time Fenway Park leader with 216 starts and 1,553.0 innings at the ballpark. He has earned at least four wins in each of his 17 seasons with Boston, the only Major Leaguer to do that in every campaign since 1995, and was the active Major League leader overall in wins and innings pitched through the 2011 season.
Signed by Boston as a minor league free agent on April 26, 1995, the knuckleballer went on to earn his first of two Red Sox Pitcher of the Year awards from the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He led the team with 16 wins, tied for fifth most in the American League, during the strike-shortened season, and won 10 consecutive starts from the end of June through the middle of August, a feat unmatched by any Red Sox pitcher since 1950. That year, he finished second in the AL with a 2.95 ERA (64 ER/195.1 IP) to garner third place in Cy Young Award voting and earn the league’s Comeback Player of the Year honors from The Sporting News. A versatile member of Boston’s pitching staff, he is the only hurler ever to make 200 starts and 150 relief appearances for the club. He took over closing duties for the Red Sox in 1999 when Tom Gordon was injured and accumulated 22 total saves in his career, tied for fifth most among 200-game winners since saves became an official statistic in 1969.
In 2005, he again won team Pitcher of the Year honors after topping the club with 16 wins, 33 starts, 225.1 innings, 151 strikeouts, three complete games and a .245 opponent average. In 2009, Wakefield tied for the Major League lead with 11 wins in the first half of the season and was named an All-Star. It was his 11th career double-digit win season, passing Clemens for the all-time club lead. He won a career-high 17 games for Boston in 1998 and 2007, and with his final victory on September 13, 2011, became the 89th modern Major Leaguer (since 1900) to reach 200 career wins.
Wakefield pitched in 18 career playoff games, including 11 starts, and ranks among Red Sox postseason leaders in starts (T-2nd, 9), strikeouts (3rd, 47), innings (4th, 54.0) wins (T-5th, 3) and games (6th, 16). Each of his three postseason victories with Boston came against the Yankees.
Originally selected by Pittsburgh in the eighth round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft as a shortstop, he converted to pitching the next year and reached the Major Leagues with the Pirates in 1992. Under manager Jim Leyland, he went 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA (22 ER/92.0 IP) as a rookie in 1992, bolstering the National League East Division Champion Pirates, and won each of his two starts against Atlanta in the Championship Series with complete-game efforts. He was the Pirates Opening Day starter in 1993.
A champion of charitable efforts in New England and his hometown of Melbourne, Florida, Wakefield was honored as the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, bestowed annually to the Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contributions to their clubs. In 2011, the Boston chapter of the BBWAA announced the start of an annual Tim Wakefield Community Service Award in his honor.
Wakefield has been actively involved with “Pitching in for Kids,” a non-profit organization dedicated to providing grants to improve the lives of children across New England. He supports Melbourne’s Space Coast Early Intervention Center, a unique non-profit therapeutic pre-school program for children with special needs. He adopted the Center in 1992 when it was struggling financially and faced closure and has helped to raise over $10 million for the organization through his annual Tim Wakefield Celebrity Golf Classic and Memorabilia Auction. Over the last 13 years, his “Wakefield Warriors” program has enabled patients from the Franciscan Hospital for Children and the Jimmy Fund in Boston to visit with him and watch batting practice before all Tuesday home games at Fenway Park. He has also been an active participant of the annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon and has served as the organization’s Co-Captain each of the last two years.
The Red Sox will celebrate Wakefield’s career this season at Fenway Park with further details to be announced.
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