BOSTON -- Tim Wakefield was a special ballplayer and an even better person. The Red Sox knuckleballer was beloved by those he shared the locker room with in Boston, fans who watched his knuckler dance to the plate, and anyone that he touched in his many community endevours.
Wakefield spent nearly 30 years with the Red Sox organization, including 17 as a player -- the most in team history among pitchers. He won World Series titles with the team in 2004 and 2007, and his 186 career victories in a Red Sox uniform are third-most all time. When Boston won the franchise's first title in 86 years in 2004, one of the best highlights of that title run was seeing Wakefield get redemption after he surrendered the crushing solo homer to Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS at Yankee Stadium.
In many ways, Wakefield's dedication to the team on the field and the Boston community off it highlighted the best of the best of the Boston Red Sox. So when the Red Sox announced Sunday that Wakefield had passed at the age of 57, tributes and posts honoring him began to pour in quickly.
"I can't describe what you mean to me and my family," David Ortiz wrote on his Instagram account. "My heart is broken right now because l will never be able to replace a brother and a friend like you…."
Jason Varitek fought back tears as he spoke about Wakefield from the Red Sox locker room in Baltimore.
"I've always said it: Wake exemplifies what this uniform is. Not just the name on the back, it's the name on the front. What he's done in the community and the way he's represented it," said Varitek. "The way he's respected the game. He's exemplifies what it means to be a Red Sox and what it means to be a professional."
"We lost a brother, a teammate, and a family member," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the team's win in Baltimore. "This guy, one of the best teammates I ever had. This is not B.S. This guy was there for us all the time, he was accountable. He was what a Boston Red Sox should look like."
Other former teammates and members of the Red Sox reflected on Wakefield's legacy on social media.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released the following statement about Wakefield:
"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," wrote Manfred. "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.
"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," continue Manfred. "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."
Wakefield did a lot of work with the Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and was the Jimmy Fund Co-captain for the Red Sox (along with Clay Buchholz) in 2010. Melany N. Duval -- the Senior Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & The Jimmy Fund -- thanked Wakefield for all of his work over the years in a statement on Sunday.
"Tim Wakefield was selfless in his dedication to the adults and children being treated for cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute," wrote Duval. "He was our inaugural Jimmy Fund Red Sox co-captain and always went the extra mile. He often visited our adult and pediatric floors, met our teen patients during their annual spring training trip, and was dedicated to helping us raise funds for cancer research and care. He will be missed. Our thoughts go out to his family, his fans, and the Red Sox organization."
Former Red Sox first/third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who now does Red Sox games on NESN, shared a tribute to Wakefield in Sunday's pregame show.
"He was just the... he was a great competitor when he took that mound. He was just a great teammate and just a great friend," Youkilis said on NESN as he fought back tears. "I had the luxury of playing with him on the field, in the booth, and I'm glad that I had the opportunity over the years to be beside him. Just an amazing husband, father, and community leader. He really enjoyed people and being around people. Today, we lost one of the good ones."
The Red Sox posted a video tribute to Wakefield, narrated by radio play-by-play man Joe Castiglione, highlighting the many awards and accolades the knuckleballer won during his career.
The Red Sox also changed their profile picture on X to Wakefield's No. 49.
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