Red Sox Legend Tim Wakefield Dies at 57, Remembered for His Charitable Work

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Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, who won two World Series titles with the team and was known for his signature knuckleball, died on Sunday at the age of 57 after a battle with brain cancer.

A Beloved Figure in Boston

Wakefield spent 17 of his 19 seasons in the major leagues with the Red Sox, joining the team in 1995 and retiring in 2011. He holds the franchise record for most innings pitched (3,006) and is third in wins (186) and strikeouts (2,046). He was a two-time All-Star and a key member of the 2004 and 2007 championship teams that ended the team’s 86-year drought and established a dynasty.

Wakefield was also a beloved figure in Boston for his off-field contributions, especially his involvement with the Jimmy Fund, which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and its research and care for cancer patients. He was named the first Jimmy Fund co-captain for the Red Sox in 2010 and “always went the extra mile,” according to a statement from Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund.

“He visited patients, adults and children in our clinics. He spent time with our teens down at Spring Training. He really went the extra mile at every turn,” said Rebecca Glavin, the vice president of annual, planned and institutional giving at Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund.

Red Sox Legend Tim Wakefield Dies at 57

Tributes Pour in from Fans and Peers

The news of Wakefield’s death was announced by the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon, prior to their final game of the season, a 6-1 win over the Orioles in Baltimore. The team observed a moment of silence before the game and wore black armbands in his honor.

Fans and peers also paid tribute to Wakefield on social media, expressing their sadness and gratitude for his legacy. Former teammate David Ortiz posted a heartfelt message on Instagram, calling Wakefield “a brother and a friend” and saying that his heart was broken.

“I can’t describe what you mean to me and my family, my heart is broken right now because I will never be able to replace a brother and a friend like you…. Rest in peace my brother,” Ortiz wrote.

Other former teammates, such as Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, and Curt Schilling, also shared their condolences and memories of Wakefield, praising him for his character, generosity, and professionalism.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Kim Janey also issued statements, recognizing Wakefield’s impact on the city and the state.

“Tim Wakefield was a legend on the field and a hero off it. He was a champion for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber, and a role model for countless young fans. He will be dearly missed, but his legacy will live on,” Baker said.

“Tim Wakefield was more than a great pitcher, he was a great person. He gave so much to our city, especially to the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber. He inspired us all with his courage and compassion. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” Janey said.

A Knuckleballer for the Ages

Wakefield began his career as a first baseman in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, but switched to pitching after struggling at the plate. He developed a knuckleball, a pitch that is thrown with little or no spin and moves unpredictably, and made his major league debut in 1992.

He had a remarkable rookie season, going 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA and leading the Pirates to the National League Championship Series, where he lost two games to the Atlanta Braves in heartbreaking fashion. He was released by the Pirates after the 1993 season and signed with the Red Sox in 1995.

He quickly became a fan favorite in Boston, winning 16 games in his first season and helping the team reach the playoffs. He was also a versatile pitcher, who could start, relieve, or close games, depending on the team’s needs. He was willing to sacrifice his personal stats for the team’s success, such as giving up his start in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS to pitch in relief in Game 3, which allowed Derek Lowe to start and win the decisive Game 7 against the New York Yankees.

He was also a mentor to other knuckleballers, such as R.A. Dickey and Steven Wright, who credited him for their development and success. He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2016 and worked as a broadcaster and analyst after his retirement.

Wakefield is survived by his wife, Stacy, and his two children, Brianna and Trevor.

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