Tim Wakefield: Ranking 10 Greatest Moments as Red Sox Player
Baseball is a magnificent sport.
In a relatively short period of time a man can win over the masses and just as quickly lose their affection, becoming old news. Some say baseball is a young man's game. That is probably true. Though, there have been players who have defied that conventional wisdom, playing into their late 30s and early 40s.
Tim Wakefield has been one of those transcendental players.
His major league playing days started as a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates way back in 1992. Suffice to say, some reading this were likely born in 1992 or thereafter.
I won't bother to go into his early days playing baseball. However, I do recommend picking up his book, "Knuckler: My Life With Baseballs Most Confounding Pitch" written with Tony Massarotti. It is an excellent read.
Lately there have been many fans and writers alike calling for Wakefield to just call it quits. I don't want to talk about that right now.
Rather, what I would like to do is examine 10 of Wake's most memorable moments in a Red Sox uniform to serve as a reminder to Red Sox fans exactly what the man has meant to this team and this city.
Honorable Mention: 1992 NLCS
While he pitched for the Pirates in 1992, it is hard not to mention probably one of the finer moments in Wakefield's career.
In the 1992 National League Championship Series, Wakefield went 2-0 against the Atlanta Braves. He won both of his games versus Tom Glavine.
His first game in the series was a complete game five-hitter in Game 3. On just three days rest he would return to face Glavine once again in Game 6 and put up another complete game for the victory.
No. 10: 2009 All-Star
At the start of the 2009 season Tim Wakefield was impressive. He posted an 11-3 record with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.380 WHIP. Many thought that he was well on his way to winning 20 games for the first time in his career.
While he would never hit that 20 game plateau, he did hit another career high: Wake made the American League All-Star team. This was the first time in his then 17-year career to have received that honor.
Though Wake did not pitch in the actual game, the nomination is something that cannot be taken away from him.
No. 9: Most Innings Pitched for the Red Sox
There are only three names truly in the conversation for "time served" so to speak, as a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
Cy Young threw for 2,728.1 innings while in Boston. Clemens threw for 2,776 of his own. Wakefield has blown both men out of the water, having thrown for 3,006 innings through the 2011 season.
No. 8: No-No Through 7 Innings in 2009
On April 15, 2009, a day after the Red Sox bullpen had been exhausted, having been forced into pitching over 11 innings of relief, Tim Wakefield carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning while the Sox visited the Oakland Athletics.
Kurt Suzuki would be the one to break up the no-no on a one out single in the eighth.
Wakefield would go on to earn himself a complete game victory.
Another amazing aspect to this feat was that he completed it at the age of 42, which made him the oldest pitcher in team history to throw a complete game.
In his very next start, he broke his own record by throwing another complete game.
No. 7: 2004 ALCS
While it is easy to overlook his performance during the 2004 regular season. After all, he only managed a 12-10 record behind Curt Schilling, who won 21 games, Pedro Martinez, who won 16 games and Derek Lowe who added 14 victories.
However, in the ALCS, Tim Wakefield was arguably the most valuable member of the pitching staff.
With the Red Sox already down two games to the New York Yankees and already being beaten badly in Game 3, Wakefield volunteered to give up his Game 4 start to come out of the bullpen and ate up three and a half innings for the Red Sox.
Sure enough, the Red Sox lost game three by a score of 19-8.
The next night however, all of that would change. The Red Sox had their backs up against the wall and were forced to rely on their bullpen for six and a third innings of work in an extra-inning extravaganza that saw the Red Sox taste their first victory of the series (on the back of the steal heard 'round the world by Dave Roberts.)
Wakefield would return to the series in Game 5, coming from the bullpen and earning the victory.
No. 6: 17 Wins in 1998 & 2007
Twice in his career, Wakefield has sniffed the 20-win mark.
The first time came back in 1998 when Wake would go 17-8 with a 4.58 ERA and 1.343 WHIP.
The second time at a more impressive stage of his career. In 2007 Wake would go 17-12 with a 4.76 ERA and 1.349 WHIP. The caveat to this particular stat is the fact that he amassed those 17 wins while struggling with back pains down the stretch.
Though Wakefield would lose his one start in the 2007 ALCS and not pitch in the World Series, Wakefield finished second to Josh Beckett's 20 wins and was an instrumental piece of the rotation that brought the team to the big dance.
No. 5: Hitting 200 Wins
One can make the argument that it took Tim Wakefield too many tries at the expense of the team in 2011 to hit his personal milestone, be that as it may, the man still hit 200 wins.
It took him eight tries, and eventually 18 runs from his team, but on September 14, 2011 against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wakefield would get his 200th career victory (186th in a Red Sox uniform.)
Some of the frustration from Red Sox Nation came at the expense of Wakefield. Many believing that manager Terry Francona was rolling him out too much to try and obtain his 200th victory. Little did we know the debauchery going on behind the scenes.
No. 4: The Roberto Clemente Award
It took Tim Wakefield eight nominations, but finally on October 28, 2010 he received the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award.
The Award is given out annually to a player who "combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.”
Not every amazing statistic has to come from on the field. Wake has long been doing good deeds for the community through his Wakefield's Warriors project.
From his website:
The Wakefield Warriors program, which Tim created in 1998, continues to enable patients from the Franciscan Hospital for Children to watch batting practice and visit with Tim before all Tuesday home games. The patients leave Fenway with T-shirts, gifts, autographs and smiles. Not only does Tim spend one-on-one time with the patients, but he has also cohosted a golf tournament on an off day to help raise necessary funds. For his dedication to improving the lives of children and their families in the Boston community, Tim was honored by the Franciscan Hospital for Children with their Community Leadership Award on May 22, 2003.
For more information about the Franciscan Hospital for Children, visit their website.
No. 3: Throwing Knucklers Maintaining Impressive Team Stats
Quickly, who has the most strikeouts in Red Sox team history? Is it:
A) Tim Wakefield
B) Cy Young
C) Pedro Martinez
D) Roger Clemens
And your answer should be D) Roger Clemens.
Part Two: Who has the second most in team history?
Yup, Tim Wakefield. As of right now, Wake has 2046 strikeouts in a Sox uniform. Cy Young has 1341 and Pedro Martinez has 1683.
For those keeping tabs, Luis Tiant comes in at number five on the list with 1075.
No. 2: Forget Aaron Boone, 2003 Was Wake's Year
Everyone remembers the 2003 ALCS for two very specific reasons:
Number one: Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in too long.
Number two: Tim Wakefield allowing the walk off home run to Aaron Boone.
However, if Boston had gone on to win that game seven, Tim Wakefield likely would have been the ALCS MVP.
He earned wins in both Games 1 and 4 of the series, pitching 14 innings, allowing only seven hits and three earned runs total.
No. 1: 1995
While 1995 did not result in Tim Wakefield's highest win total, and no, he did not make the All-Star team; it proved to be his single best season as a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
In his first season in Boston, he started the year 14-1 with a 1.65 ERA. While opposing batters started to figure him out their second time around, Wake would still go on to finish the season with a 16-8 record on the heels of a 2.95 ERA and 1.183 WHIP striking out 119 batters in just 27 games.
Wakefield would finish third overall in the American League Cy Young Award voting and received several votes for AL MVP, finishing 13th overall in that race.