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Tim Wakefield retires after 19 seasons and 200 wins

Feb 17, 2012, 11:52 AM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

Tim Wakefield will announce his retirement during a press conference tonight, calling it quits after a 19-season career in which the knuckleballer won 200 games despite not making his big-league debut until age 25.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino revealed last week that the team had offered Wakefield a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, but the 45-year-old right-hander didn’t have an obvious fit on the roster after posting a 5.12 ERA in 155 innings split between the bullpen and rotation last season.

Wakefield pitched 17 of his 19 seasons in Boston after being released by the Pirates in the spring of 1995 and has the third-most wins in Red Sox history behind Cy Young and Roger Clemens, earning $56 million along the way.

He signed a contract extension in 2006 that gave the Red Sox a perpetual team option for $4 million per season, which they picked up three times before negotiating a new deal with a lower annual salary. At the time Wakefield was 39 years old, yet he went on to throw 934 more innings with a 4.74 ERA and made his first All-Star team in 2009 at age 42.

In addition to ranking third among all Red Sox pitchers in wins, Wakefield also ranks first in starts and innings and second in games pitched and strikeouts. Not bad for a guy whose average fastball during the past decade clocked in at 74.1 miles per hour.

  1. phukyouk - Feb 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    As a die hard yankees fan i will always be greatful for Game 7 ALCS 2003. that being said… I wish him all the Best. he seemed like a class act all the way.

    • unsatisfiedmind - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      You’re grateful for a game that sent the Yankees on to lose to the wildly inconsistent Florida Marlins in 6 games in the World Series and then set the stage for the epic collapse in the 2004 ALCS?

      That is die hard…

      • phukyouk - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        That was a brilliant remark. Why would I have wanted the Yanks to beat the Sox to get into the WS? i mean.. i KNEW that they would lose anyway so i would much rather have had them just lose to the Sox. IDIOT!

      • baseballisboring - Feb 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        But you’ll ALWAYS be grateful? Even though it didn’t yield anything? I’m sure you were grateful at the time, but always?

      • phukyouk - Feb 17, 2012 at 2:52 PM

        What am i missing here? The Yanks won the Pennant that year, against the Sox, in the 13th inning, on a walkoff HR, By Aaron Boon, in a game which they were trailing by 3 in the 8th. how is that NOT the epitome of awesome? so they don’t win the WS therefore the amazing game that got them there is worth nothing?

  2. Jack Marshall - Feb 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Good move, Tim. Right up there with Bill Lee, Looie, and Dick Radatz as my favorite Sox pitchers to watch pitch, and an interesting, unique and versatile presence on the team. I’ll miss him, but it was time to go.

  3. randygnyc - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Hey valentine, are you sure he doesn’t have a few more games in his knuckles? Surely, 4-5 starts against the Yankees this year would help rest your shorthanded starting rotation

    Anyway, if the team you’ve been so loyal to for so many years, fails to bring you back and you do retire, I wish you luck, Tim.

    • baseballisboring - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      They’ve been pretty loyal to him too. The other 29 teams mostly at least try to make decisions based on baseball and common business sense.

      • coachbrew - Feb 17, 2012 at 6:08 PM

        The Twins and Drew Butera beg to differ.

  4. yankeesgameday - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Much respect for Wakefield. When they finally beat the Yanks in 04 he was the only guy on that team I thought deserved to go to the World Series.

    Same discussion will happen with him as it did with Posada now: does he deserve to be in the hall of fame or just have his number retired by Boston? I think both players should make the hall but as long as their clubs honor them it would be appropriate.

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      Red Sox hall of fame maybe, but not THE Hall of Fame. 200 wins with an ERA in the mid 4’s just isnt cutting it. He was good for a very long time, but other than maybe 1-2 years he was never great. I love the man, but no HoF for him.

    • channingtaintum - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      Hall of Fame? Come on now. He was a longtime Red Sox member, and may get some team recognition years from now. But he has ZERO chance at making the hall of fame, and anyone who says otherwise needs their head examined.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:15 PM

        Why? The players might get enshrined, but the Hall of Fame is for the fans.

        If enough people want him in, then he deserves to be in. End of story.

  5. hammyofdoom - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Ugh, this has been coming but it still brings a tear to my eye. This guy has been on the Sox almost as long as I’ve been alive. Stay classy Wake

  6. bobwsc - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    going out in the Best Shape of His Life, no doubt.

  7. hammyofdoom - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    I just read on MLB trade rumors that Wake got something like 54 million dollars for his 19 years in the majors. That rolling 1 million dollar a year contract he had with the Sox is one of the most team friendly things I’ve ever heard of

    • rsnorth - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:08 PM

      It was 4 million a year, not 1 million

  8. snowbirdgothic - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    In true knuckler form, the retirement announcement took eight minutes to reach the podium, then bounced away from the mike and rolled to the backstop.

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Followed by Varitek scampering up onto the stage to get it and throwing it to Dustin Pedroia in the crowed on fourteen hops

  9. Joe - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Timmy put up some great seasons for the Sox, but his real strength was being able to stick around and be reasonably effective for a long time. As the years have gone along, having Wakefield pitch a lot of innings has been an indicator that things haven’t been going to plan for the Sox. I like him, but it’s time.

    And, if you’re talking about the HOF in Cooperstown? No, he doesn’t deserve to be there. Red Sox HOF, sure. I doubt his number will be retired by the Red Sox.

  10. poprox13 - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Sad to see him go but it was time. Good luck Wake!

  11. smackingfools - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Should be note he wasn’t a pitcher in college. He learned how to throw the knuckle ball after he was told he’d never make it as a position player.

  12. skeleteeth - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Ahh, no more giving up 6 dingers and still getting a win in Detroit…

  13. baseballisboring - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I’m gonna miss him too…not just cause he’s been around forever and I’ve always liked him, but also because I feel like we could probably still use him, plus he’s a knuckle baller. RA Dickey…you’re our only hope.

    • skeleteeth - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      Sure, why not. He also gave up 6 dingers in a game. No win though.

  14. Chipmaker - Feb 17, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Aw, man — I wanted to see him claim the Red Sox career mark for wins. Wake’s 186 is only six behind co-leaders Clemens and Young.

    True, it might have taken him all season, maybe into 2013 — but it would have been good to see him sitting at #1.

  15. sdelmonte - Feb 17, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    And thus the knuckleball torch has passed entirely to RA Dickey.

    Here’s wishing Wakefield a good retirement. And hoping he gets a gig teaching young pitchers the secret pitch.

    • natstowngreg - Feb 17, 2012 at 5:59 PM

      We need knuckleballers in baseball. They’re interesting and unusual and add a certain spice to the game. Not gonna start rooting for R.A. Dickey, but it’s nice to have at least one knuckleballer around.

      If Tim Wakefield can teach the next generation of knuckleballers, he will be performing an immense service to the game. Best wishes, Tim.

  16. sanzarq - Feb 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    I’ve always loved to watch knuckle ball pitchers, ever since Jim Bouton tried to use the pitch to get back to the bigs with the Braves organization in the 60’s. I tuned in anytime I had a chance to watch Wake pitch and enjoyed his long career! I’m not a big BoSox fan, per se, & don’t live anywhere near Beantown, but I think this guy has earned his way into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame & I hope the guys that vote for such things feel the same way.

  17. richwizl - Feb 17, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    He’s a classy guy and will be sorely missed by his teammates and fans. Thanks for the many great memories, Tim; float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

  18. hushbrother - Feb 17, 2012 at 8:09 PM


  19. aceshigh11 - Feb 17, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    From Bob Ryan at the Globe:

    “In his first 17 starts for the Red Sox, Tim Wakefield was 14-1 with a 1.65 ERA. He never allowed more than three earned runs in any game. He flirted with no-hitters on a few occasions. He beat the Mariners in a 10-inning complete game, the only Seattle run coming on his own throwing error.”


    Take a bow, Mr. Wakefield. You’ve earned it…thanks for the memories.

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