Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is retiring. Friday evening, the beloved pitcher will make a formal announcement from spring training in Florida. Red Sox fans, including commentator Jeremy Bernfeld, say the Sox are losing a class act.
Growing up in Boston, there were always a few constants. The sun rises in the East, you’ll hit traffic on 93, and Tim Wakefield pitches for the Sox.
But now, only two of those are still true.
Wakefield the lifer has seen it all from the Red Sox bench, and I have seen him all my life on NESN.
Any Bostonian who remembers the ‘90s knows Wake has seen his share of mediocre baseball. Wake's seen stars like Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra rise. And he’s seen them fall.
He has seen tragedy. He was on the mound that night in 2003 when the Red Sox saw their World Series hopes disappear. And he was right there with the team the next year, when the Red Sox won it all. And again in 2007.
But that’s Wake. He was there.
In fact, that’s really his claim to fame — the pitcher who was always there. He won an impressive 200 games — impressive, really, because he’s not all that good a pitcher. He mastered a tough skill, throwing the knuckleball — a kind of pitch that baffles batters more than beats them. But he did it, he did it well, and he did it forever. For me, quite literally.
I was 8 years old when Wake first took the mound in Boston in 1995. He walks off in 2012 just six wins shy of the Red Sox’ team record for wins by a pitcher — when I’m 25.
Of course, life will go on. Tomorrow, the sun will still rise over Boston Harbor, cars will still be backed up at the Braintree split — even though a little piece of my childhood just floated away.
He’s no superstar. He’s no Hall of Famer. But come April, I know I’ll miss Tim Wakefield.
This segment aired on February 17, 2012.