BOSTON (AP) — Tim Wakefield, the knuckleballing workhorse of the Purple Sox pitching employees who bounced again after giving up a season-ending residence run to the Yankees within the 2003 playoffs to assist Boston win its curse-busting World Collection title the next yr, has died. He was 57.
The Purple Sox introduced his loss of life in an announcement Sunday. Wakefield had mind most cancers, based on ex-teammate Curt Schilling, who outed the sickness on a podcast final week — drawing an outpouring of assist for Wakefield. The Purple Sox confirmed an sickness on the time however didn’t elaborate, saying Wakefield had requested privateness.
Drafted by the Pirates as a primary baseman who set residence run information in faculty, Wakefield transformed to a pitcher after mastering the knuckleball within the minor leagues. Counting on the old-timey pitch that had largely fallen into disuse, he went on to win 200 main league video games, together with 186 with the Purple Sox — behind solely Cy Younger and Roger Clemens in franchise historical past.
But it surely was his position within the Purple Sox-Yankees rivalry of the early 2000s that turned Wakefield right into a fan favourite whose influence went far past his numbers.
After New York rallied to tie Sport 7 of the ’03 AL Championship Collection, Wakefield got here on in aid within the eleventh inning and Aaron Boone hit his first pitch for a walkoff residence run to finish Boston’s season and prolong a World Collection drought that stretched again to 1918.
The next October, with the Purple Sox season once more in danger in opposition to the Yankees within the ALCS, Wakefield received 9 outs in further innings of Sport 5, establishing David Ortiz to win it within the 14th. The Purple Sox went on to finish their comeback from a three-games-to-none deficit after which sweep St. Louis within the World Collection to say their first championship in 86 years.
“He was an excellent competitor when he took that mound,” former teammate Kevin Youkilis stated on the printed of Sunday’s Purple Sox sport. “He was only a nice teammate and only a nice good friend. Had the posh of taking part in with him on the sector, within the sales space, and simply glad that I had the chance through the years to be alongside of him.”
The Purple Sox, and Wakefield, received all of it once more in 2007.
“There have been some years there the place I didn’t know if I used to be going to come back again or not,” Wakefield stated at his 2012 retirement information convention. “However I’m very grateful that I’ve been in a position to put this uniform on for such a very long time, and win two World Collection for this nice metropolis.”
Wakefield was 11-3 when he made his solely All-Star Sport in 2009, turning into the second-oldest participant — to Satchel Paige — ever chosen to his first All-Star Sport. Wakefield was the oldest participant in baseball at 45 when he earned his two hundredth win in September, 2011, retiring his ultimate six batters.
He introduced his retirement the next spring coaching, seven wins in need of breaking the franchise file for wins held by Clemens and Younger.
“I’m nonetheless a competitor, however finally I feel that is what’s finest for the Purple Sox,” he stated on the time. “I feel that is what’s finest for my household. And to be trustworthy with you, seven wins isn’t going to make me a unique individual or a greater man. So, my household actually wants me at residence.”
An eighth-round Pittsburgh draft choose in 1988, Wakefield transformed to a pitcher two years later in an effort to revive his probabilities of making the majors. He received his callup halfway by the 1992 season and went 8-1, ending third within the NL rookie of the yr voting.
He added two full video games within the NL playoffs — one in Sport 6 to maintain Pittsburgh alive. (He was voted the MVP of the Collection late in Sport 7, earlier than the Atlanta Braves rallied to win on Francisco Cabrera’s single with two out within the backside of the ninth.)
However Wakefield was unable to recapture his success in his second yr in Pittsburgh, going 6-11 with a 5.61 ERA. He was launched by the Pirates after one other journey by the minors, and signed six days later by the Purple Sox.
Wakefield once more strung collectively a dominant run, beginning 14-1 in 1995 earlier than ending the yr at 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA. After 17 seasons with Boston, he retired because the franchise chief with 3,006 innings and 430 begins, and second in video games and strikeouts.
In all, he was 200-180 with a 4.41 ERA.
Wakefield was additionally an eight-time nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award that goes to a ballplayer for exemplary sportsmanship and neighborhood involvement, successful it in 2010.
“Tim was greater than only a versatile and dependable All-Star pitcher, a extremely revered teammate, and a two-time World Collection champion,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred stated in an announcement, citing “the devoted work he and his household did serving the communities of New England.”
After retiring, Wakefield grew to become an analyst for Purple Sox broadcasts and remained lively within the workforce’s charities.
“Tim’s kindness and indomitable spirit had been as legendary as his knuckleball,” Purple Sox proprietor John Henry stated. “He not solely captivated us on the sector however was the uncommon athlete whose legacy prolonged past the file books to the numerous lives he touched together with his heat and real spirit. He had a outstanding potential to uplift, encourage, and join with others in a approach that confirmed us the true definition of greatness. He embodied the perfect of what it means to be a member of the Boston Purple Sox and his loss is felt deeply by all of us.”
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