Former MLB pitcher and two-time World Series winner Tim Wakefield died Sunday, the Boston Red Sox announced. He was 57.
“Tim’s kindness and indomitable spirit were as legendary as his knuckleball,” Red Sox owner John Henry said in a statement. “He not only captivated us on the field but was the rare athlete whose legacy extended beyond the record books to the countless lives he touched with his warmth and genuine spirit. He had a remarkable ability to uplift, inspire, and connect with others in a way that showed us the true definition of greatness. He embodied the very best of what it means to be a member of the Boston Red Sox and his loss is felt deeply by all of us.”
Our hearts are broken with the loss of Tim Wakefield.
Wake embodied true goodness; a devoted husband, father, and teammate, beloved broadcaster, and the ultimate community leader. He gave so much to the game and all of Red Sox Nation.
Our deepest love and thoughts are with… pic.twitter.com/ah5kV2Yt8j
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 1, 2023
Wakefield, a Florida native, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a third baseman in 1988. He began working on a knuckleball when he realized he wouldn't make it as a position player, and he officially made the conversion to pitcher in 1990. His made his major-league debut in 1992 and had a fantastic season, but his career with the Pirates fizzled by 1995, and they released him.
We are saddened by the loss of Tim Wakefield.
Tim began his Major League career with the Pirates and was a part of our baseball family for six years. He made his debut in 1992 and was a key addition to the pitching staff that helped propel the team to its third consecutive… pic.twitter.com/171nTWEyhC
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) October 1, 2023
He wasn't a free agent for long, though. Wakefield signed with the Red Sox a few days later and became a franchise mainstay, wowing fans with his knuckleball and his charity work with the team. He spent 17 seasons in Boston and was part of the landmark, curse-breaking 2004 World Series team, as well as the 2007 championship team. He owns all-time Red Sox records with 430 starts and 3,006 innings pitched, and he ranks second in franchise annals with 590 pitching appearances and 2,046 strikeouts, He is the only player in franchise history to appear in a game at the age of 44 or older, and he is the all-time Fenway Park leader with 216 starts and 1,553 innings at the ballpark.
Wakefield joined the Red Sox as a broadcaster and a special assistant after his retirement in 2012 and continued his charitable work as honorable chairman of the Red Sox Foundation. He helped revive a nonprofit therapeutic preschool program for children with special needs when it was struggling financially and held an auction and celebrity golf tournament every year to raise money. He worked closely with the Jimmy Fund both during and after his career, assisting in its annual radio telethon.
Wakefield is survived by his wife, Stacy, and their children, Trevor and Brianna.
Wakefield was in treatment for unspecified disease
The news about Wakefield's death was stunning, though reports about his health were swirling days earlier after Curt Schilling, former pitcher for the Red Sox and Wakefield's teammate from 2004 to '07, revealed the Wakefields' personal health information without their permission.
On his podcast, Schilling shared that Wakefield had brain cancer and Wakefield's wife, Stacy, has pancreatic cancer, and he asked people to pray for them and their children. Soon, the news was all over social media, and the Red Sox and many of Wakefield's former teammates were reportedly furious that Schilling had shared the information without permission.
Curt Schilling said on his podcast the Wakefields are fighting cancer. Hard to imagine why he would do that, but he did. To say that people with the Sox and others around Tim and Stacy are furious is an understatement.
All the best to the Wakefields, who are very nice people. https://t.co/Zn2g6YGsGp
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) September 28, 2023
The Red Sox subsequently released a statement about the Wakefields, asking people to respect their privacy.
"We are aware of the statements and inquiries about the health of Tim and Stacy Wakefield. Unfortunately, this information has been shared publicly without their permission. Their health is a deeply personal matter they intended to keep private as they navigate treatment and work to tackle this disease. Tim and Stacy are appreciative of the support and love that has always been extended to them and respectfully ask for privacy at this time."
The Red Sox did not announce Tim Wakefield's cause of death. Schilling has yet to comment.