Tim Wakefield, one of the most spectacular knuckleballers in Major League Baseball, passed away today. He lost his battle with a brain tumor and said goodbye to the mound for good at the age of 57.
Wakefield’s former team, the Boston Red Sox, tweeted, “Wakefield passed away today after battling a brain tumor. We are saddened to report his passing.”
Born in 1966 in Melbourne, Florida, Wakefield was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth round of the 1988 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He was a first baseman when he joined the organization, but was converted to pitching after being labeled a weak hitter.
The position change was successful. After honing his skills in the minors, he took the mound in the majors in 1992. When he moved to Boston in 1995, he quickly became a regular starter, winning 16 games and winning 10 or more games four years in a row.
There were ups and downs. In 1999 and 2000, he struggled with his stuff and won just six games in back-to-back years. Then Wakefield went to the late Phil Niekro (who died in 2020), the “master of the knuckleball” who won 318 games in his career, for a tutoring session, and he rebounded with a pitch of his own.
Since then, Wakefield has become one of the most dominant knuckleball pitchers in Major League Baseball. He dominated hitters with a pitch that never seemed to know when or where it would change. Starting in 2002, he won 10 games in four consecutive years, and in 2007, he tied his career high of 17, which he set in 1999. Then, in 2011, at the age of 45, well past the point of retirement, he hung up his jersey after winning exactly 200 games.
Wakefield, who compiled a 200-180 record with a 4.41 ERA in 622 major league games, was known as a pitcher who threw more knuckleballs than fastballs during his career. His slow fastball, in the low 90s, was practically a decoy, and his butterfly-like knuckleball drew bats away from opposing hitters. This unique delivery was so volatile that Doug Mirabelli was Wakefield’s designated catcher, not Jason Versteeg, who was Boston’s starting center fielder. 스포츠토토
After his retirement, Wakefield continued to interact with baseball fans as a play-by-play announcer, but his battle with a brain tumor forced him to part ways with the mound. The news of Wakefield’s battle with the brain tumor was only recently made public by his family.