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Red Sox Veteran Wakefield Reflects On Career Through Memoir

This article is more than 12 years old.
File photo, Tim Wakefield (AP)
File photo, Tim Wakefield (AP)

The Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-2 in 11 innings Thursday night in Anaheim, Calif. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez hit an RBI double to break the extra-inning tie.

Gonzalez is among the new faces on the team this year, but longtime veteran Tim Wakefield is still pitching for the team. He reflects on his 19-year career in a new memoir, "Knuckler: My Life with Baseball's Most Confounding Pitch."

But Wakefield wasn't always a pitcher. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a power-hitting first baseman. He only made the switch to the mound when the Pirates told him he had two choices: become a pitcher, or get released.

WBUR's sports commentator Bill Littlefield spoke with Wakefield about the book, and asked if he ever itches to take some batting practice.

"Batting practice would be fun, but I do not miss hitting at all. The higher levels that I rose, even as a pitcher, I saw how hard it was for regular position players to not only play their position and defense, but also to hit," Wakefield said.

"Plus you might face a knuckleball," Littlefield said to Wakefield.

"I have, I actually faced a knuckleball. Tom Candiotti and I faced each other when I was with the Pirates in 1992, and it wasn't very fun trying to hit off them, either," he said with a laugh.

Wakefield grew up an all-around athlete. He was good at basketball and is an excellent golfer. But he said he's never thought about making a living playing another sport besides baseball.

"I was good at a lot of things, but I wasn't as good as I was in baseball when I was younger, baseball was my passion."

And Wakefield said that after all these years, his passion for baseball is still there.

"I tell guys this all the time — as many opening days, or as many times as I've taken them out at Fenway or on the road, I still get butterflies," he said. "Veteran guys have told me that when you lose that feeling it's probably time to go home, but I still have that fire in my belly, I still want to compete, I still have fun doing it."

You can listen to the full interview with Wakefield on WBUR's Only A Game, Saturday at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

This program aired on April 22, 2011.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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