Beloved former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield died at the age of 57, the team announced on Sunday.
The knuckleballer spent 29 years with the organization as a player, special assistant and broadcaster.
Wakefield’s health challenges came to light last week.
“Tim’s kindness and indomitable spirit were as legendary as his knuckleball,” Red Sox principal owner John Henry said in a statement. “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.”
Wakefield won World Series titles with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007.
Over his 19-year career with the Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates, Wakefield went 200-180 with a 4.41 ERA and 2,156 strikeouts. His 17 seasons with the Red Sox are most in team history among pitchers.
Following his retirement in 2011, Wakefield joined NESN’s pregame and postgame coverage of Red Sox games. This season, he was added to the booth as a color commentator.
Wakefield was the honorary chairman of the Red Sox Foundation.
“It’s one thing to be an outstanding athlete; it’s another to be an extraordinary human being. Tim was both,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. “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.”
The righty holds all-time Red Sox records with 430 starts and 3,006 innings pitched. Wakefield is behind only Roger Clemens in the Red Sox career strikeout category, piling up 2,046 during his time in Boston.
“This is heartbreaking news,” Clemens tweeted. “A great person, great teammate, and great golfing companion for many of our playing years. I told him many times playing along side of him what a great competitor he is. Hugs to his family and extended family. Miss you pal.”
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement on Wakefield’s death.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tim Wakefield, one of the most unique pitchers of his generation and a key part of the most successful era in the history of the Boston Red Sox. Tim’s knuckleball allowed him to excel as a rookie with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992. In 1995, he began a 17-year tenure in Boston, where he made a mark that will be remembered forever. Tim was more than just a versatile and reliable All-Star pitcher, a highly respected teammate, and a two-time World Series Champion. In 2010, Tim was named the Roberto Clemente Award winner for the dedicated work he and his family did serving the communities of New England,” Manfred said. “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Tim’s family, his friends and teammates across the game, and Red Sox fans everywhere. We will continue to support our partners at Stand Up To Cancer in the memory of Tim and all those who are in the fight against this disease.”
This article was originally published by CBS News on October 1, 2023, at 1:04 p.m. PT
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