action:article | category:SPORTS | adString:SPORTS | zoneID:40

Home » Sports

February 17. 2012 7:39PM

Wakefield announces retirement

Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield announces his retirement during a news conference at the team's new spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla. (STEVE NESIUS / REUTERS)

* Won World Series with Boston in 2004 and 2007

* Ranked third on Red Sox list for career wins

Tim Wakefield, who carved out a 19-year career thanks to his utterly unpredictable knuckleball, announced his retirement from the Boston Red Sox on Friday.

Wakefield, at 45 the oldest player in MLB last season, had a 200-180 career record with a 4.41 ERA and won two World Series championships (2004, 2007) with the Red Sox.

“This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” an emotional Wakefield said during a news conference at Boston's spring training facility in Florida. “So it is with a heavy heart that I stand here today and I am saddened to say that I have decided to retire from this wonderful game of baseball.”

The rubber-armed Wakefield, who played 17 seasons for Boston after two years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, is third on the Red Sox list for career wins (186), six short of the team record held by Cy Young and Roger Clemens.

Only Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons), Ted Williams (19) and Dwight Evans (19) played more seasons with Boston than the long-lasting Wakefield.

He went 7-8 last year with 5.12 ERA and struggled down the stretch with a 6.30 ERA over his final four starts as Boston squandered what had appeared to be a sure berth in the playoffs.

Drafted by Pittsburgh in 1988 as a first baseman, Wakefield decided his odds of reaching the majors were better as a pitcher and developed the tricky knuckleball delivery to speed his progress.

The knuckleball is a pitch delivered with fingers dug into the ball in order to release it without imparting spin. Not only is the speed of the delivery cut by about one-third, but the floating ball is affected by air conditions and currents that can drastically alter its flight.

It can be as hard for a catcher to corral as for a batter to hit.

Former major league catcher Bob Uecker, who went on to a career in broadcasting and comedy, once quipped that catching a knuckleball was easy.

“I just wait until it stops rolling and then I pick it up,” said Uecker.


Armed with the beguiling pitch, Wakefield found himself on the fast-track to the majors and joined the Pirates for the 1992 season and posted an 8-1 record. But then the right-hander lost control of the pitch and was cut by Pittsburgh.

After a standout season for Boston's Triple-A minor league team, Wakefield was a hit with the Red Sox in 1995, going 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA in what might have been his best season.

Despite never quite reaching those heights again, Wakefield remained a fixture with the Red Sox and doubled as a relief pitcher over the years.

The durable hurler notched 15 saves besides starting 17 games in 1999, and had 22 saves in all during his career.

Wakefield made his only All-Star team in 2009 and was 11-5 with a 4.58 ERA in 21 starts that season.
Also known for his charitable work, Wakefield was given MLB's Roberto Clemente Award in 2010, presented to the player who best reflects the spirit of giving back to the community, for his work with charities assisting needy children.

Wakefield's retirement left R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets as the only active knuckleballer in the major leagues.

“When it came do to it I had to take a hard look at what I thought was best for me, my family and the Red Sox,” he said.

“There is nothing that I want more than for this team to win and it is hard sometimes to take yourself out of the decision process, but in my heart I feel that by retiring I am giving them a better chance to do that.”

 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Former New Hampshire goalie DeSmith tells his side of arrest, dismissal from team

NH hockey team moving to Maine could be worth at least $1 million in economic activity say city officials

New owners of Claremont plan to put speedway back on track

Speedway in Claremont bought for nearly $519,000

Lebanon marathoner qualifies for US Olympic Trials

Matt Bonner talks about the end of the run, making the simple play, and playing until he's 40

Ex-UNH goalie agrees to diversion,receive counseling, avoids jail

Wildcats will face Chattanooga in prime time

New England Revolution forward Charlie Davies teaches supporters how to believe

Helmetless Football? Its the new practice at UNH


DeSmith officially dismissed from New Hampshire team, but can return to class as of Dec. 20

San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner (15), of Concord, N.H., shoots the ball against Boston Celtics center Tyler Zeller (44) during the second half at TD Garden.

Rapper Lil B gives shoutout to…Matt Bonner?

Manchester Central's Tyler Stratton watches his shot get by Spaulding High School (Rochester) goalie Derek Scott during a shootout at the 2012 Bauer Christmas Hockey Classic hosted at JFK Coliseum in Manchester.

VFW downsizing threatens Spaulding hockey due to loss of venue for Bingo fundraisers

Eagles notes: Kelly committed to current job

5 face riot charges in beating incident at football game

Ayotte rips top sports league commissioners for snubbing hearing on domestic violence

Manchester Monarchs sign Josh Gratton to AHL contract

Can football without helmets lead to fewer concussions?

Trial date set for former UNH hockey coach accused of assaulting player

Sudanese runner with NH ties hoping to crowdfund way to 2016 Olympics

Former Wildcat van Riemsdyk undergoes successful surgery

Monadnock Speedway driver captures first Granite State NASCAR title


 New Hampshire Events Calendar


Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory