When you're a young baseball fan growing up, whether you're pretending to face the final batter in the bottom of the ninth in game seven of the World Series, or you imagine rounding the bases after hitting a walk-off home run, there are certain players that stick out to you. Players you want to be like and imitate. For me, Red Sox legend, Tim Wakefield, was one of those players.
Wakefield passed away on Oct. 1 as a result of brain cancer, leaving behind a wife and two children. He was 57.
I could sit here and list off all of Wakefield's career stats, his most memorable moments, and of course, talk about that famous knuckleball. But, I'm not going to. Because for as much as Wakefield accomplished on the mound, he will be also be heavily remembered for who he was as a person. A teammate, a worker, a friend, a father, a husband. I want to talk about what it meant, for me, to be a fan of Tim Wakefield.
I fell in love with the game of baseball at a very early age, taking a particular interest in one team. The Boston Red Sox. I was 8 years old in 2004 when the Red Sox broke the curse and brought a title to Boston for the first time in 86 years. There was nothing cooler to me than seeing what the Red Sox had accomplished that year. Between Papi, Manny, and Tek, that championship team was full of players who will be remembered forever, but nobody can look back and remember that team without talking about No. 49, Tim Wakefield.
I remember playing catch with my dad for hours out in the yard, and would endlessly try and replicate that Wakefield knuckleball. While spending a bulk of his career in the same rotation as guys like Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester, it was often Wakefield who made you want to turn your TV on and watch the Sox as opposing hitters whiffed trying to get a piece of that wicked knuckleball.
Pieces like this are very difficult to write. Trying to find words that do justice to the player and man that Wakefield was is impossible. There's not much you can say about Wakefield that hasn't already been said.
Former teammates, players, coaches, media members and fans alike came together on Sunday to remember Wake.
Certain people just change the energy in the room as soon as soon as they walk in. Certain people make you want to be a better person. Certain people inspire you through their devotion to a certain, team, cause, or organization. Certain people change lives. Certain people leave you with a teary-eyed smile whenever you think about them. For so many people, Wakefield was that person.