Tim Wakefield, 45, is set to announce his retirement from Major League Baseball today after 19 seasons in the big leagues, 17 of those years with the Boston Red Sox, as the team announced earlier today.
The right-hander, well known for his knuckleball and durability, was signed by the Red Sox in April of 1995, only six days after he was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates. From there on, Wake was a sensation with Boston, winning at least 12 games in each of his first four seasons with the Red Sox.
He continued to rack up the wins year after year until he reached the pinnacle mark of 200 for his career on September 14th of this past season, which turned out to be the final win of his career.
He went through a tough time in 2003 after letting up the series-clinching home run to Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS, but never gave up and was a part of defeating the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.
Wakefield's resume includes over 3,200 innings pitched, more than 2,100 strikeouts, an All-Star appearance in 2009, at age 42, a Roberto Clemente Award in 2010, and two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. He is third on Boston's all-time wins list at 186 (200 total), sitting six wins behind Cy Young and Roger Clemens.
He had shown interest in pitching for the Red Sox in 2012, but there wasn't a spot on the major league roster for him and he didn't want to accept a minor league role. Instead, Wakefield will retire as a member of the Red Sox and preserve the legacy that he left with millions of Boston fans.
We now turn to see what Jason Varitek will do, the man who caught over 150 games for Wakefield. The Boston captain has played his entire 15-year career with the Red Sox, but there no longer is a spot for him. Boston already has Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach on the major league roster and also have prospect Ryan Lavarnway waiting in Triple-A Pawtucket.
Salty told reporters, "I care about him [Varitek] as a person and a friend. This is a decision he's going to have to make. Wake made this decision walking out the right way. Just like Jorge [Posada, of the Yankees] had to do the same thing. I know when you're with one team for your whole career, you kind of want to end it that way."