scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Readers share their favorite memories of Tim Wakefield

Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield tips his cap as he acknowledges the standing ovation he is recieving from the crowd after he notched his 2000th career strikeout to end the top of the sixth inning. The Boston Red Sox hosted the Seattle Mariners in an MLB regular season game at Fenway Park.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

After the death of former Red Sox player Tim Wakefield on Sunday, we asked our readers to tell us what they’ll remember most about the legendary knuckleballer.

We received more than a dozen responses from fans who described the impact he made on their lives.

Below is a collection of their tributes:

In 2010, I think, I went with my parents to see the Red Sox in a spring training game in Jupiter/West Palm. The Red Sox did not often play on the east coast of Florida in those days and many veteran players declined to make the long trip from Fort Myers disappointing the many New England retirees (my dad, especially) who lived there. Those who did just dressed and left after their few innings were over. Tim Wakefield, I noticed, was the exception to all that. He pitched his few innings and then went out to the bullpen to sit with his young teammates. Afterward, he hung around one of the gates to meet and talk to the New England folks and give a few autographs. Both by his work on NESN and elsewhere we all got to know that he was that kind of person always.”-Edward S., Highland Mills, NY

I got to fist bump Tim Wakefield on the field at Fenway Park at this year’s Run to Home Base. I was so star struck that I barely noticed that Chris Sale was standing right next to him.”-John F., Stow, MA


I’d been a baseball fan when I was a kid, but I hadn’t really followed it for years until the summer of 1995. That, of course, was the summer that Wake began the season 14-1, with a 1.65 ERA. That streak was one of the most dominant I’ve ever seen, rivaling even what Pedro would put together a few years later. He made great hitters look like fools, flailing wildly as they tried to figure out where the ball would be by the time it got to the plate. Watching him pitch that summer made me a fan again. But, as so many people have said, Wake wasn’t just a ballplayer. He was a tremendously decent man who gave more to our community than we will ever know. And yet he wasn’t one to draw attention to himself, but the sort of humble star that is too rare in today’s game. The world is a better place for Wake’s having been in it, and that is about the best thing you can say about someone.”-Richard H., Providence, RI


Tim Wakefield signs a copy of his book "Knuckler" for fans in Boston.HANDOUT

“April 12, 2011. Tim Wakefield signs a copy of his book “Knuckler” in Boston for my sons, Ryan (left) & Jack. We pulled the boys out of school. It was Ryan’s 12th birthday and Wake teased him by asking ‘Is this really what you wanted for your birthday?’”-John B., Plymouth, MA

Hot Stove Cool Music. He auctioned off his cleats. I won the auction. He and I had a fun chat where he signed both cleats only if I promised that he and Dougie would always be my favorite players. I agreed they would both always be my favorite players. He made me feel like I was a real friend of his right there and even at the after party when he talked to me. I hugged those shoes and cried when I heard the news of his death.”-Jan D., Revere, MA


My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of ‘04, so she was going through chemotherapy during that year’s miracle run and we couldn’t travel from our home in LA to Boston to see any of it in person. By summer of ‘05 she was in remission, and we treated ourselves to a VIP weekend in Boston which included great Sox seats. The first night we arrived at Fenway very early, and were walking up the street when you heard this insanely loud merengue music blaring down the street. Sure enough, here comes Big Papi in this ridiculous red convertible Mercedes. He pulled up to the police barricade and it took a moment for them to let him in. As the cops pulled back the barricade, this Range Rover comes screeching up and cuts off Big Papi! There was a momentary Boston-style jockey for the lane, then the tinted window on the Range Rover rolls down and there’s Wake! They had a brief tongue-in-cheek road rage moment and then Papi let Wake go ahead. After all, he WAS starting that night. We were the only two fans on the sidewalk when this happened, and it felt very special. My wife would have a relapse and passed in 2008, but I’ll always have that special memory. RIP Lola, and RIP Wake!”-Mike G., Boston, MA

I got clean from drugs in 2004. I had to reinvent myself, in order to keep going. Tim Wakefield always kind of symbolized that for me. I remember how they had to come and get him off the mound after game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. He was weeping and I thought: this is a guy who understands second chances.”-Zeke R., Brighton, MA


The on-field memory of Tim Wakefield that I will never forget is his three scoreless extra innings in relief in Game 5, which the Red Sox won and he was the winning pitcher. Innings 12 and 14 were a breeze, oh, but that 13th inning. The game had already been going on for over five hours, it was well after midnight, and nerves were beyond frayed. In that inning he not only walked two batters but his dancing knuckler caused Varitek to have three passed balls. With runners on second and third and two out, another passed ball would have been a disaster. Hanging on every pitch, praying for Varitek to catch each knuckler but girding for the inevitable; this is how the Red Sox are going to lose, again, this is how they are going to tear our hearts out once more. But he struck out the batter on a 3-2 pitch, Varitek held it, a huge sigh of relief and the rest was history.”-Jerry M., Roslindale, MA

I’ve been living in OC, California since 1983. My friends and I have been going to games at the Big A rooting for the Red Sox for 40 years. On May 27th, 1985 a friend and I made a last minute decision to go to the Sox-Angels game. When we got to the stadium we saw Tim Wakefield on the marquee as the starting pitcher for the Sox. I remembered his story playing for Pittsburgh as a third baseman then changed over to pitcher. He then disappeared from baseball for a couple of years. We saw the first Boston win for Wake. I also remember Mitch Williams giving up a bomb to Vaughn and angry Anaheim fans throwing several thousand promotional seat cushions onto the field. Sox won by a lopsided score. The was the start of a brilliant Boston career. Thanks for the memories, Tim. You are and will be missed.”-David C., San Clemente, CA


My daughter was receiving care at the Jimmy Fund Clinic in ‘05 and as soon as our nurse found out we were Red Sox fans, she told us the story of how Wake sat and waited for a little patient to be done with the procedure so he could meet him in person! He was adored by all there—even if they weren’t baseball fans.”-Cari C., Wayland, MA

Weymouth resident Maureen M. poses with Tim Wakefield at Fenway Park.HANDOUT

I have always adored and admired Tim Wakefield. Like a schoolgirl crush. Loved to watch him play. He was truly one of the good guys. Anyway, my son worked for the Sox for a year or two, and it was the annual picnic. My son was taking us up to the control room and coming down was Tim. I was like a kid! If it weren’t for the fact my son had his credentials on, I’m pretty sure security would have been called. He was gracious as ever and allowed us to take a picture. I had the pleasure of meeting him again at a WB Mason event held in Fenway. And of course the years I participated in Run to Home Base. Nicest guy. always made time for the fans. My deepest sympathies to the Wakefield Family.”-Maureen M., Weymouth, MA

I met Tim Wakefield at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival when the film ‘Knuckleball’ came out in 2012. He’s been my favorite Red Sox player since he joined the team. I don’t usually go up to strangers and introduce myself but I thought this might be my only chance to meet him. I told him I just wanted to thank him for 2004 and 2007, and let him know how much I enjoy watching him throw the knuckleball. He was so gracious. He shook my hand and afterward I thought, ‘I got to shake Tim Wakefield’s pitching hand!’ My heart is broken over his passing.”-Anonymous, Boston

My brother and (now) sister-in-law asked me to be the officiant for their wedding. (They were married on Sept 7, 2013. Our first place Sox beat the Yankees that day.) My contribution to the wedding ceremony was ‘9 Ways I Hope Your Marriage is Like Baseball,’ and my best hope for them was embodied by Wake. Here are the final two hopes of what I wrote and shared for them that day: ‘8. Pinch runners. Lefty specialists. Defensive Replacements. Not every player can steal the base. Or work the walk. Or induce the double play. You need a team of guys with different strengths to go deep into October. There are those times when Millar has worked the walk, and it’s up to Dave Roberts to get us to second. Mop-up guys, too. Sometimes you take the ball and work til your arm is jello and your ERA is bruised because it makes it better for your team tomorrow. I hope you can be Wakefield and ask for the ball. I hope you make each other better. 9. I hope you win.’ Yes, it’s about those amazing weeks in October 2004. But really, something to strive for: to be the person our friends, our people, our team can rely on. To do the hard work to make things easier for others. I didn’t know Wake personally, but by all accounts he was a gem, and he made us all better.”-Laura D., St. Paul, MN

Any time my dad came across Red Sox tickets growing up, we always joked to one another ‘I hope Wakefield isn’t pitching that night’ (since his knuckleball wasn’t the most exciting thing to watch in person). Suffice to say, we loved Wakefield and everything he delivered to the community and the Red Sox organization; a life undoubtedly well lived.”-Daniel K., Medford, MA

Jenna Reyes can be reached at Follow her @jennaelaney and Instagram @jennaelaney.