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‘I will never be able to replace a brother and a friend like you’: Red Sox teammates pay tribute to late Tim Wakefield

Dan Shaughnessy remembers Tim Wakefield
WATCH: Sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy joins Boston Globe Today to celebrate the life of Tim Wakefield.

Whether it be his former teammates out on the baseball diamond or the countless others that he impacted across the greater Boston community, Tim Wakefield was honored by numerous tributes on Sunday shortly after news of his passing was announced. The beloved knuckleball pitcher was 57.

Wakefield pitched for the Red Sox organization for 17 seasons (1995-2011), winning two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.

Wakefield is the all-time Red Sox leader in starts (430) and innings pitched (3,006). He ranks second in franchise history in pitching appearances (590) and strikeouts (2,046), behind Bob Stanley (637 games) and Roger Clemens (2,590 strikeouts). He is third in club history with 186 wins, trailing only Clemens and Cy Young (192 each).

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Along with his achievements on the field, Wakefield won the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the MLB player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”

Here are a few of the reactions and thoughts shared by those who knew Wakefield, both from his playing days and his efforts in the community.

David Ortiz

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

Kevin Youkilis

" He was a great competitor when he took that mound. He was just a great teammate. Just a great friend. Had the luxury to play with him on the field. In the booth. Just glad I had the opportunity over the years to be alongside him. Just an amazing husband, a father and a community people. He really enjoyed people. He really loved being around people. Today we lost one of the good ones.”

Lou Merloni

“It’s surprising, shocking. He was doing well after surgery. To get that news today was hard. He was obviously a friend, a teammate. The ultimate teammate… He was just a good human being. I’ve run into so many people that have told me stories behind the scenes that he had done for them, or for their families, that nobody knows about. It’s not in the papers.

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“He would do anything for you. It was hard, a few weeks back, hearing about what he himself was going through personally, because I knew he was going through a lot with his wife. That was hard but I knew he was doing better since the surgery. This one here today just came out of nowhere. It was shocking. I heard it and didn’t really believe it. It makes for a real hard day.”

Jonathan Papelbon

“Wake was an amazing friend, and teammate! An absolute legend that embodied what it means to be an @RedSox player on the field and in the Boston community. I am grateful and blessed to have had you in my life. Since my days as a young kid in the big leagues to retirement and now working together @NESN you have taught me more than you will ever know about the game of baseball and life. You will never be forgotten and live forever in the eyes and hearts of Red Sox Nation.”

Mike Lowell

“My heart is broken and I have no words. RIP Wake. You were one of the good ones and a great teammate. Red Sox Nation will forever be grateful. Thank you for your friendship.”

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Roger Clemens

“Well…this is heartbreaking news. 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.”

Will Middlebrooks

“Absolutely heartbroken. Wake was a good man. This is awful.”

Fred Lynn

“Devastating news about Tim Wakefield. I only knew him off the field, but he was a very good guy. Class act. Gentleman. Our thoughts go out to his family and all those who knew and loved him.”

Sean Casey

“RIP Wake. You will be missed. Way too soon.”

Red Sox post tribute video

Shortly after Wakefield’s passing, the Red Sox posted a tribute video for their longtime pitcher — narrated by Joe Castiglione.

Charlie Baker

“Tim Wakefield was a gentleman. He reinvented himself as a ballplayer more than once & became one of the players that broke the curse. He set an example for us all & I’m grateful that he and his family made MA their home. RIP Tim, we won’t see another like you for a long time. 🙏”

Maura Healey

“This one hurts. Tim Wakefield epitomized class, empathy, and devotion to his family, team, and community. He will be truly missed and my condolences to his family, friends, and all who loved him.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred

“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.

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“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.”

Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy

“It’s a rare occurrence for a two-time World Series Champion’s extraordinary personality to shine even brighter than their illustrious career. 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.”

Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner

“It’s one thing to be an outstanding athlete; it’s another to be an extraordinary human being. Tim was both. 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.”

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NESN’s Tom Caron

“I’ve worked with Wake for the past 12 years, and had the honor of covering him for 17 seasons before that. I’ve never met anyone who loved the Red Sox more, or who better understood how to use the power of sports to help those in need. Absolutely gutted by his loss.”

Worcester Red Sox

“We join all of Red Sox Nation, and baseball fans everywhere, in mourning the loss of Red Sox Hall of Famer Tim Wakefield. As great as the knuckleballer was on the mound, he was an even better human. We’ll miss Wake, but we will always cherish the 17 years of memories he gave us.”

New England Patriots

“Such heartbreaking news. Sincerest sympathies to the Wakefield family and all who mourn his loss.”

Boston Bruins

“We join the Boston sports community in mourning the loss of Tim Wakefield and send our deepest sympathies to Tim’s loved ones and the entire Red Sox and NESN family.”

Boston Celtics

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of Red Sox legend Tim Wakefield. Our condolences go out to the Wakefield family and Red Sox organization during this difficult time.”

Mike Timlin on Wakefield in 2007

Following Wakefield’s passing, NESN.com’s Mike Cole posted a video of Mike Timlin praising Wakefield following Boston’s victory in the 2007 World Series.

Read more about Tim Wakefield


Conor Ryan can be reached at conor.ryan@globe.com.