Tim Wakefield and I arrived in Boston around the same time. I moved here in the fall 1994. 1995 was my first season watching the Red Sox. (I confess that I had live for many years in what was then Atlanta’s triple A city, Richmond, VA within walking distance of the ballpark and watched all the many Atlanta stars get their start.) 1995 was Wake’s first season with the Sox. So I feel a special bond with Wake and feel so happy for his making the All-Star team.
The New York Times’ David Waldstein wrote
The Boston Red Sox will send the largest delegation of players to the 80th All-Star Game in St. Louis with six, and among them is one who has waited 17 years for the honor.
Tim Wakefield, the 42-year-old knuckleballer who has pitched in 18 postseason games, was named to his first All-Star team Sunday by Joe Maddon, the American League manager, after posting a 10-3 record for Boston. Wakefield will join second baseman Dustin Pedroia, outfielder Jason Bay, first baseman Kevin Youkilis, starter Josh Beckett and closer Jonathan Papelbon from the division-leading Red Sox.
Bob Ryan wrote one of his great columns this morning in the Boston Globe.
It has been 14 years since Tim Wakefield put on the finest demonstration of knuckleball pitching in the history of baseball.
No knuckleballer – not Hoyt Wilhelm, not Phil Niekro, not Belmont’s Wilbur Wood – ever has been as dominant over a stretch of time as Wakefield was in 1995 when he went 14-1 at the beginning of his Red Sox career. He flirted with a no-hitter or two, he pitched a 10-inning complete game against the Mariners, and he jump-started the Sox as they won the AL East. It was a virtuoso performance of the highest order.
Tim Wakefield is not going to Cooperstown. What he has done is make himself an indispensable member of 15 Red Sox pitching staffs. He has been a comfort to managers and a great teammate. What he did 14 summers ago set an unattainable standard, not only for himself, but for any knuckleballer past, present, or future. Were that all he ever did in service of the Red Sox, it would have been enough for the fans to remember him fondly.
But here he is, 15 summers into his Red Sox career. He is the franchise leader in starts, walks, and, yes, losses. He trails only Cy Young and Roger Clemens in victories. He is second to Clemens in strikeouts. He even shows up among the leaders in saves. If there was a category for Taking One For The Team, he’d be the clear leader in that one, too. He is the Grand Old Man of the Boston pitching staff.
Four weeks shy of his 43d birthday, he is also a first-time All-Star.
Congratulations, Wake. You deserve the big hug from David Ortiz. Consider that a hug from all of us.