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|#49 Tim Wakefield|
|Boston Red Sox - Starting Pitcher|
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|Height: 6'2||Weight: 204 lbs|
|Born on August 2, 1966 in Melbourne, Florida|
|July 31, 1992 for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Picked no. xth overall in round 8 of the 1988 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.|
|Updated April 25, 2009|
|Career Highlights and Awards|
After graduating from Eau Gallie High School in 1984 and attending Florida Tech, Wakefield was selected in the 8th round of the free agent draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1988. He began his minor league career as a corner infielder for Watertown of the New York-Penn League. After a scout told him that he would never get above Double-A ball with his skills, Wakefield began experimenting with various other positions, playing first base and third base, until he developed the knuckleball that has made him so well-known.
The following season, Wakefield made his professional pitching debut while playing for the Single-A Salem Buccaneers. His immediate success led to a full conversion to pitcher in 1990 when he would lead the Carolina League in starts and innings pitched. Wakefield advanced to Double-A in 1991 and continued to improve, leading all Pirates minor leaguers in wins, innings pitched, and complete games.
Pittsburgh Pirates (1992-1994)Edit
In 1992, Wakefield began the season with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons of the American Association. He registered a league-high 6 complete games by July 31st - winning 10 games with a 3.06 ERA - and was called up to the majors. In his major league debut Wakefield threw a complete game against the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out 10 batters while throwing 146 pitches. There were 20,299 fans in attendance at the old Three Rivers Stadium .
Down the stretch, Wakefield would provide a surprising but necessary boost for the playoff-bound Pirates, starting 13 games and compiling an 8-1 record with a 2.15 ERA, a remarkable performance that would win him the National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year Award from The Sporting News. After winning the National League East division, the Pirates would face the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series and Wakefield won both of his starts against Braves star Tom Glavine.
In 1993, Wakefield was not able to duplicate his stellar performance from the year before. He suffered terrible control problems, a common ailment of a knuckleballer. In the first month of the season, he walked nine batters twice and ten in another start. After losing his spot in the starting rotation, Wakefield was sent down to Double-A in July where he continued to struggle. He was recalled in September and struggled again, but would finish the season with two straight shutouts (though he walked six in his final start).
Wakefield spent most of 1994 with Triple-A Buffalo hoping to work out his control problems but made little progress. He led the league in losses, walks, and home runs allowed. While Wakefield would once again be recalled to the Pirates in September, he did not play because of the players strike.
Boston Red Sox (1995-present)Edit
Wakefield signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox six days after his release from the Pirates and quickly returned to form. He won 16 games, helping the Red Sox win a division title, and captured the Sporting News American League Comeback Player of the Year award. He also finished third in the A.L. Cy Young Award balloting.
Over the next three seasons (1996-1998), Wakefield would remain an important part of the Red Sox rotation, winning as many as 17 games, but always battling the same control problems that jeopardized his career in Pittsburgh.
In 1999, Wakefield was struggling again, and Boston found itself without injured closer Tom Gordon. Without many choices, manager Jimy Williams installed Wakefield as the new closer during the middle part of the season. He would record 15 saves before Derek Lowe emerged as the new closer and Wakefield could return to the rotation.
Because of his success out of the bullpen, Wakefield found himself in a frustrating position over the next three seasons (2000-2002). He was constantly moved from the position of relief pitcher to starter and back again. His versatility was both an asset and a curse. After being moved back into the rotation in late July 2002, Wakefield found his groove once again and has remained in the rotation ever since, making only occasional relief appearances.
For several years, his personal catcher had been Doug Mirabelli, who uses a league-approved mitt similar to a softball catcher's mitt for catching Wakefield. Josh Bard briefly caught Wakefield during the first month of the 2006 season, but Boston reacquired Mirabelli that May 1 after trading him to San Diego the previous offseason. His ability to catch the baffling pitch made him a valuable commodity to the team. Since Wakefield is a knuckleballer, he is expected to throw a lot of wild pitches, but in 2006, he only committed six in the whole season. Wakefield has been a solid member of the Red Sox starting rotation in 2007. On August 25, 2007 he won his 16th game of the season, which tied him for the American League lead in wins at the time.
His longevity and consistency have helped him quietly become one of the top pitchers in Red Sox history. Wakefield is currently the longest-serving member of the Boston team. On April 19, 2005, Wakefield agreed to a $4 million, one-year "rolling" contract extension that gives the Red Sox the ability to keep their longest-tenured player for the rest of his career. Wakefield entered his 14th season with the Boston Red Sox in 2008. 
Notable playoff performancesEdit
In 1992, his rookie season, Wakefield won both of his playoff appearances, throwing a complete game 5-hitter in Game Three of the NLCS and another complete game in Game Six on three days' rest. With the Pirates leading the Braves in Game Seven, Wakefield was poised to be named NLCS MVP until the Braves rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth off Stan Belinda and Doug Drabek.
In the 2003 ALCS, Wakefield was one of the most successful pitchers against the New York Yankees, allowing only three runs in 13 innings. He started Games One and Four of the Series, with the Red Sox winning both. He was also called in to pitch in extra innings of Game Seven, after the Yankees tied the game. The Red Sox had been leading 5–2 in the eighth inning. After retiring the side in order in the 10th, Wakefield gave up a home run to Aaron Boone on his first pitch of the 11th, sending the Yankees to the World Series. Wakefield apologized to fans after the game.
In 2004, Wakefield helped the Red Sox exact revenge by winning the ALCS against the Yankees, a best-of-seven series to advance to the World Series. He helped save the wearied Boston bullpen by pitching 3 1/3 innings in a blowout Game Three defeat, which put the Red Sox in a 3-0 series hole. Wakefield volunteered for this relief duty despite being slated to pitch in Game Four the following day, knowing full well he was giving up his start. Derek Lowe got the start in Game Four, which the Red Sox ultimately won. In Game Five, Wakefield was the winning pitcher in a 14 inning thriller, throwing three shutout innings as the Red Sox won 5–4. He pitched Game One of the 2004 World Series but did not get a decision as Boston defeated the Cardinals, 11–9.
Wakefield epitomizes conventional wisdom about knuckleballers: to be successful with the knuckler at the Major League level, you must throw it exclusively, or at least primarily. Wakefield's knuckleball has a wide range of speed (55-68 mph) and a great deal of variance in how much it 'flutters.' Both depend on a variety of factors, which include, but are not limited to: temperature, humidity, precipitation (both type and intensity), air resistance, wind speed, wind direction, and the condition of the ball. Wakefield also features a 74-78 mph fastball and a slow curve (60-65 mph). His success derives from deception (he throws all his pitches from the same relaxed delivery) and movement.
Wakefield is well known throughout Major League Baseball as one of its most charitable players. He has been nominated many times by the Red Sox for the Roberto Clemente Award, presented to the player who best reflects the spirit of giving back to the community. Since 1998, Wakefield has partnered with the Franciscan Hospital for Children in Boston to bring patients to Fenway Park to share time with him and on the field. He has also hosted an annual celebrity golf tournament for 15 years. Wakefield has also been active with New England's Pitching in for Kids organization (a program dedicated to improving the lives of children across the New England region), the Space Coast Early Intervention Center in Melbourne, Florida, and the Touch 'Em All Foundation founded by Garth Brooks.
In 2007, Wakefield released a charity wine called CaberKnuckle with 100% of the proceeds supporting Pitching In For Kids and raised more than $100,000.
- Through 2008, Wakefield is one of ten pitchers with 100 or more wins in a Red Sox uniform (156), ranking third behind Cy Young and Roger Clemens (tied with 192).
- He is the longest-tenured member of the current Red Sox roster. In 2008, he surpassed Bob Stanley (1977-1989) and Roger Clemens (1984-1996) for most years pitching for the Red Sox (15 years counting 2009).
- He is one of relatively few pitchers in history to strike out four batters in one inning. Because the fluttering knuckleball produces many passed balls, several knuckleballers share this honor with Wakefield.
- Set a career high in strikeouts (12) in a 1–0 complete game loss to the New York Yankees on September 11, 2005.
- Wakefield gave up six home runs to Detroit, becoming the first pitcher to do so since 1940. The Red Sox won the game, 11-9, on August 8, 2004
Tim Wakefield, at age 42, was chosen for the American League All-Star Game squad in 2009. He became the 2nd oldest first-time All-Star. Satchel Paige made the squad for the first time at age 46 in 1952.
- Wakefield holds the distinction of defeating the Tampa Bay Rays more than any other individual pitcher in the history of MLB. His 19 victories are due in part to his longevity of playing in the American League East, with so many opportunities against the Rays due to the unbalanced schedule that Major League Baseball employs (teams will play teams in their division more than those in other divisions). On September 23, 2007, Wakefield lost at Tropicana Field for the first time in 14 starts. He now holds a 9-1 record at the ballpark.
- TimWakefield49.com - Tim's Official Website
- MLB - daily updates
- ESPN - profile
- ESPN - news archive
- Baseball Library - biography and highlights
- Baseball Reference - statistics and analysis
- Retrosheet - specific game info and transaction dates
- Tim Wakefield - SoSH Wiki
|AL Comeback Player of the Year|