Wakefield cashed in on his second chance opportunity

Hats off to Tim Wakefield on a stellar career

Tim Wakefield retired today after 19 seasons in the major leagues.  He made his Major League debut in 1992 at the age of 25 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  After helping the Pirates to the 1992 NLCS by going 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA Wakefield regressed in his second year, going 6-11 with a 5.61 ERA.  Wakefield was cut in spring training before the 1994 season and he wound up sitting out that year.  The Boston Red Sox called in 1995 and gave him a second chance at the majors.  17 years, 186 wins and 2 World Series rings later I think it’s safe to say that the Sox’ gamble that off season paid off.

Wakefield was key in helping the Red Sox win the American League East in his 1st year with the Sox, going 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA in 27 starts.  Wakefield would go on to win at least 12 games in each of his first 4 seasons with the Sox, including a career high 17 in 1998.  He would once again pitch in the post season that year for the Sox.  Wakefield would hit a rough patch and won only 6 games each in 1999 and 2000.  He got up to 9 wins in 2001 but had 12 losses.  Wakefield’s fortunes changed along with the rest of the franchises however when new ownership arrived in 2002.  Wakefield was back up to 11 wins in 2002 against only 5 losses.  His 2.81 ERA in ’02 was his lowest in any single season for the Red Sox.

Wakefield celebrates the 1st Red Sox World Series win in 86 years

Wakefield and the Sox returned to the post season in 2003, helped by his 11-7 record and 4.09 ERA.  Wakefield made two starts in the ALCS against the Yankees and won them both but it was his relief appearance in Game 7 that he is remembered for.  With Game 7 in extra innings and the Sox bullpen spent manager Grady Little turned to Wakefield to give the Sox some innings.  Wakefield promptly gave up a walk-off home run to Yankees 3rd baseman Aaron Boone to send the Red Sox home and the Yankees back to the World Series.  Wakefield and the rest of the team came in determined in 2004 and Wakefield went 12-10 with a 4.87 ERA.  Once again the Sox were back in the playoffs and playing the Yankees in the ALCS.  Wakefield was out of the starting rotation for the series but he made 3 relief appearances.  None was more important than a pivotal Game 5 which went 14 innings.  Wakefield pitched the last three innings, holding the Yankees at bay until David Ortiz hit his second walk-off hit in as many nights in the bottom of the 14th.  The Sox went on to win the series and Wakefield celebrated on the very mound that he had given up the walk-off home run to Boone a year earlier long after the stadium had closed and the lights went out.  Wakefield started the Sox 1st World Series game since 1986 against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series.  Wakefield didn’t get the win but the Sox did and went on to sweep the Cardinals and win their first World Championship in 86 years.

Wakefield salutes the crowd after his 200th, and final, career win

Wakefield had one of his best seasons in 2007 with a 17-12 record and a 4.76 ERA.  He could not pitch in the World Series however due to injury and ceded his start to cancer survivor Jon Lester, who won the clinching game of the 2007 World Series.  Wakefield made the 1st All-Star game of his career in 2009 at the age of 42 and had a 11-5 record before an injury ended his season.  Wakefield never really recovered fully from that injury and his effectiveness dwindled in the last few years.  When the Sox decided not to retain him after the 2011 season Wakefield decided to call it quits.  He will have a press conference to announce his retirement tonight at 5:00 PM in Fort Myers.

Not everyone gets a second chance like Wakefield did with the Sox and when Wakefield got that opportunity he more than took advantage of it.  He won an even 200 games for his career.  Only three players, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, and Dwight Evans, logged more service time as a member of the Red Sox.  Only two pitchers, Rogers Clemens and Cy Young, had more wins as a member of the Red Sox.  At the time of his retirement Tim Wakefield was the winningest active pitcher in the Majors.  He’ll never be a Hall of Famer but he’ll always be remembered for what he contributed to the Boston Red Sox.  A post season hero, a consistent performer, and one of the all-time great guys in the community.  Not bad results for a second chance opportunity.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

2 Responses to Wakefield cashed in on his second chance opportunity

  1. Pingback: Random Sunday Sports Thoughts « evonsports

  2. Pingback: Red Sox celebrate Wakefield today « evonsports

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