Tim Wakefield — the legendary knuckleball pitcher who contributed to two World Series championship runs with the Boston Red Sox — has died at the age of 57 after his battle with brain cancer, according to an announcement from the franchise Sunday.
Last week on his podcast, former teammate Curt Schilling revealed that Wakefield had brain cancer, doing so without Wakefield’s consent that set off a firestorm in the world of baseball. The Red Sox confirmed that Wakefield had an illness after the fact, but did not elaborate citing Wakefield’s request for privacy.
“Tim’s kindness and indomitable spirit were as legendary as his knuckleball,” Red Sox owner John Henry said in a statement. “He not only captivated us on the field but was the rare athlete whose legacy extended beyond the record books to the countless lives he touched with his warmth and genuine spirit.”
“He had a remarkable ability to uplift, inspire, and connect with others in a way that showed us the true definition of greatness. He embodied the very best of what it means to be a member of the Boston Red Sox and his loss is felt deeply by all of us.”
Our hearts are broken with the loss of Tim Wakefield.
Wake embodied true goodness; a devoted husband, father, and teammate, beloved broadcaster, and the ultimate community leader. He gave so much to the game and all of Red Sox Nation.
Our deepest love and thoughts are with… pic.twitter.com/ah5kV2Yt8j
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 1, 2023
Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a college first baseman who set home run records at Florida Tech, Wakefield became a pitcher in the minor leagues, mastering the knuckleball. The craft led him to 200 career victories, including 186 with the Red Sox — a tally that only comes behind Cy Young and Roger Clemons in the history of the franchise.
However, Wakefield became beloved in Boston because of his role in the Sox rivalry with the New York Yankees in the early 2000s.
Following the pinstripes’ rally to tie Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Wakefield came in the game for relief in the 11th inning with Aaron Boone knocking a walkoff home run on the first pitch to end Boston’s season and send the Yankees to the World Series — extending the Fall Classic drought that the Red Sox were enduring since 1918.
The next postseason, with Boston once again at threat to be eliminated in the ALCS by New York, Wakefield tallied nine outs in extra innings, which set up David Ortiz to win Game 5 in the 14th inning. The Red Sox went on to come back from a 3-0 deficit, then reigning victorious in the World Series after sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first title in 86 years. (RELATED: Calgary Flames Assistant GM Chris Snow Left With ‘Catastrophic Brain Injury’ After Suffering Cardiac Arrest)
Wakefield and Boston won the World Series again in 2007.
The legendary knuckleballer had a career record of 200-180 with a 4.41 ERA, and is a member of the 2,000 strikeout club with a total of 2,156 strikeouts. Wakefield also had a WHIP of 1.35.