Tim Wakefield spent seventeen seasons with the Red Sox and retired as their all-time leader in innings pitched and is second place all-time for games won by a Sox pitcher at Fenway Park and third all-time for total games won by a Sox pitcher. A converted second baseman who taught himself how to throw a knuckleball, Wakefield spent the first two seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates before being released in 1995.
Signing with the Red Sox, he’d go on to pitch both as a starter and a reliever until the end of the 2011 season when he retired at the age of 44. A member of the 2004 and 2007 World Series champions, Wakefield was a valuable member of those teams, but he also contributed significantly to the 1990s Red Sox teams as well.
From 1995 to 2000, Wakefield racked up a 71-65 record with a 4.58 ERA and 762 strikeouts. Keeping in mind that knuckleballers are feast or famine (they’re either unhittable or they’re throwing batting practice), those are respectable numbers. Beyond the stats, Wakefield was a workhorse, appearing in 230 games (with 155 starts).
With the lack of wear and tear on the arm a benefit of throwing the knuckleball, Wakefield gave the Red Sox whatever they needed whether it was out of the rotation or the bullpen. He wasn’t their greatest pitcher, but he was rock solid, at times excellent, and definitely one of their best in the 1990s.