Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield knows a lot about rebounding from a tough year. He gave up the series-ending home run to New York’s Aaron Boone in the 2003 ALCS. But the following season, he won 12 games and beat the Yankees in the postseason, helping the Sox win their first World Series in 86 years.
Bill met up with Wakefield at Fenway Park to discuss the pitcher’s new autobiography, Knuckler: My Life with Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch.
Click on the listen link above to hear the interview.
Bill’s Thoughts On Knuckler
In his rookie year, Tim Wakefield won eight games and lost one. Then he won two games in the World Series.
He must have felt succeeding as a pitcher in the Bigs would be easy.
The following season he lost eleven games, won only six, and saw his earned run average more than double.
He must have felt that his days as a pitcher in the Bigs were about over.
But when the Pittsburgh Pirates let him go and Wakefield joined the Boston Red Sox, it was the beginning of an association that is still thriving. Wakefield has started for the Red Sox, and he has pitched in long relief. He has closed games, and he has entered games that looked as if they would never be closed, because the opposition wouldn’t stop scoring runs. He has, in short, been a guy whom the Red Sox could depend upon to eat up innings. He has also made large contributions to each of the Boston teams that have won championships.
Knuckler, which Wakefield produced with the able assistance of sportswriter Tony Massarotti, provides a sense of the sometimes gratifying, sometimes frustrating career of a man who has never known quite what to expect when he’s let go of a baseball. As a knuckleballer, Wakefield says he has had to be his own pitching coach. As a forty-four year old, he acknowledges that he’s the only guy in the clubhouse at the far end of a significant generation gap.
In the book, and in person, Tim Wakefield comes across as a pleasant and generous fellow who, even after almost two decades of throwing the knuckleball, is still a little bewildered by his own good fortune.