In 2004, Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield helped end the team’s 86-year “curse of the Bambino” by winning the World Series with his unconventional knuckleball. In this post, we remember Tim Wakefield and his accomplishments in the sport, as well as the legacy he leaves behind.
Tim Wakefield Obituary
Tim Wakefield, the great pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, passed away at the age of 57 on October 1, 2023, and baseball has lost a major character. Wakefield, noted for his unconventional knuckleball, was instrumental in ending the Red Sox’s 86-year “curse of the Bambino” in the World Series.
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) October 1, 2023
The King of the Knuckleball
On August 2, 1966, in Melbourne, Florida, the world welcomed Timothy Stephen Wakefield into the world. With the Boston Red Sox, he became a household name after making his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992.
Wakefield baffled batters and catchers alike with his distinctive approach and mastery of the knuckleball, a pitch notorious for its unpredictability. Despite the knuckleball’s reputation for being difficult to master, Wakefield made it his own. His knuckleball was so deftly thrown that it baffled batters and led to a high number of strikeouts.
I don’t have words, we were together a week ago, and I was so looking forward to being here for you on this stretch 😭😭😭😭😭😭
I will miss you my teammate…my heart hurts. Carolina and I will always be here for your family 🙏 pic.twitter.com/AAda8pzRB4
— Pedro Martinez (@45PedroMartinez) October 2, 2023
Tim Wakefield’s legacy
Wakefield’s knuckleball helped make him a legend with the Red Sox, but he didn’t start out as a pitcher. His bat earned him MVP honors and home run records during his time as a first baseman with the Florida Tech Panthers in college. He had some difficulty as a position player in the minors after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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In 1990, Wakefield made the transition to full-time pitcher status after he decided to try out the knuckleball, a peculiar and rarely thrown sort of pitch. Wakefield debuted with the Pirates in the majors, but he struggled and was demoted. When the Boston Red Sox acquired him, he blossomed into one of the team’s most consistent starters.
Our hearts are broken with the loss of Tim Wakefield.
Wake embodied true goodness; a devoted husband, father, and teammate, beloved broadcaster, and the ultimate community leader. He gave so much to the game and all of Red Sox Nation.
Our deepest love and thoughts are with… pic.twitter.com/ah5kV2Yt8j
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 1, 2023
As a member of the 2004 Red Sox team that ended the franchise’s 86-year championship drought and the so-called “curse of the Bambino” brought on by the team’s decision to trade Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, he assured himself and the franchise a position in baseball lore.
Even when he reached his 40s, Wakefield kept pitching. In that season, he won his 200th game, putting him in third place all-time among Boston pitchers behind only Cy Young and Roger Clemens. He made more Fenway Park starts than any other pitcher, won a game at age 42, and was the second-oldest player in All-Star history. At the age of 44 in 2011, he set a record as the oldest player in Red Sox history.
Wakefield’s charitable work off the field was recognized with eight nominations for the Roberto Clemente Award. He collaborated with numerous institutions, including the Franciscan Hospital for Children in Boston, New England’s Pitching in for Kids, the Space Coast Early Intervention Center, and Garth Brooks’s Touch ‘Em All Foundation.