BOSTON, MA—The Boston Red Sox mourn the loss of Red Sox Hall of Famer Tim Wakefield, who passed away this morning at the age of 57. The honorary chairman of the Red Sox Foundation, Wakefield spent 29 years in the organization as a player, special assistant, and broadcaster.
“Tim’s kindness and indomitable spirit were as legendary as his knuckleball,” said Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry. “He not only captivated us on the field but was the rare athlete whose legacy extended beyond the record books to the countless lives he touched with his warmth and genuine spirit. He had a remarkable ability to uplift, inspire, and connect with others in a way that showed us the true definition of greatness. He embodied the very best of what it means to be a member of the Boston Red Sox and his loss is felt deeply by all of us.”
“It’s one thing to be an outstanding athlete; it’s another to be an extraordinary human being. Tim was both,” said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. “He was a role model on and off the field, giving endlessly to the Red Sox Foundation and being a force for good for everyone he encountered. I felt fortunate to call him a close friend and along with all of us in Red Sox Nation, I know the world was made better because he was in it.”
“It’s a rare occurrence for a two-time World Series Champion’s extraordinary personality to shine even brighter than their illustrious career,” said Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy. “Tim was undeniably an exceptional pitcher, but what truly set him apart was the ease with which he connected with people. He was an extraordinary pitcher, an incredible broadcaster, and someone who exemplified every humanitarian quality in the dictionary. I will miss my friend more than anything and can only aspire to live as genuinely and honorably as he did.”
A two-time World Series champion (2004, 2007) and 2009 All-Star with Boston, Wakefield was named the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year in 1995, his first of 17 seasons with the Red Sox. In 2010, Major League Baseball recognized him as one of the most charitable players in the game with the Roberto Clemente Award, his eighth time being nominated for the prestigious honor. Wakefield joined NESN’s pre- and post-game team in 2012, and in 2016 he was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
In 19 Major League seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1992-93) and Red Sox (1995-2011), Wakefield went 200-180 with 22 saves, a 4.41 ERA, and 2,156 strikeouts in 627 outings, including 463 starts. He pitched in 18 career playoff games, including 11 starts. Of his five postseason wins, three came with the Red Sox during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The right-hander’s 17 seasons are the most in club history by a pitcher; only Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons), Dwight Evans (19), and Ted Williams (19) played at least as many seasons with Boston as Wakefield did.
Wakefield owns all-time Red Sox records with 430 starts and 3,006.0 innings pitched. He ranks second in franchise annals with 590 pitching appearances and 2,046 strikeouts, behind Bob Stanley (637 games) and Roger Clemens (2,590 strikeouts), and is third in club history with 186 wins, trailing only Clemens and Cy Young (192 each). He is the only player in franchise history to appear in a game at the age of 44 or older. Wakefield is also the all-time Fenway Park leader with 216 starts and 1,553.0 innings at the ballpark.
Signed by Boston as a minor league free agent on April 26, 1995, the knuckleballer went on that season to earn his first of two Red Sox Pitcher of the Year awards from the Boston chapter of the BBWAA. In 1995, he finished second in the AL with a 2.95 ERA to garner third place in Cy Young Award voting and earn the league’s Comeback Player of the Year honors from The Sporting News. A versatile member of Boston’s pitching staff, he is the only hurler ever to make 200 starts and 150 relief appearances for the club. With his final victory on September 13, 2011, he became the 89th modern Major Leaguer (since 1900) to reach 200 career wins.
Originally selected by Pittsburgh in the eighth round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft as a shortstop, he converted to pitching the next year and reached the Major Leagues with the Pirates in 1992. Under manager Jim Leyland, he went 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA as a rookie in 1992, bolstering the National League East Division Champion Pirates, and won each of his two starts against Atlanta in the Championship Series with complete-game efforts. He was the Pirates’ Opening Day starter in 1993.
A champion of charitable efforts in New England and his hometown of Melbourne, Florida, Wakefield was honored as the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, bestowed annually to the Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contributions to their clubs. In 2011, the Boston chapter of the BBWAA announced the start of an annual Tim Wakefield Community Service Award in his honor.
Wakefield served as the Red Sox’ first Jimmy Fund captain—along with teammate Clay Buchholz—and was an active participant in the annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, which has raised more than $60 million for cancer research. He was also actively involved with “Pitching in for Kids,” a non-profit organization dedicated to providing grants to improve the lives of children across New England. He supported Melbourne’s Space Coast Early Intervention Center, a unique non-profit therapeutic pre-school program for children with special needs. He adopted the Center in 1992 when it was struggling financially and faced closure and helped to raise over $10 million for the organization through his annual Tim Wakefield Celebrity Golf Classic and Memorabilia Auction. His “Wakefield Warriors” program enabled patients from the Franciscan Hospital for Children and the Jimmy Fund in Boston to visit with him and watch batting practice before Tuesday home games at Fenway Park.
Wakefield is survived by his wife, Stacy, and their children, Trevor and Brianna.