Tim Wakefield's knuckleball baffled the Chicago Cubs Sunday Night. (AP Photo)
Tim Wakefield pitched a vintage game last night, giving up only one hit through five innings, and only four total on the night. The 44-year old knuckle baller once again proved why he's been one of the most valuable and versatile players in Red Sox history. Wake always steps up to the mound and does what's asked of him, and from a pitching stand point, has worn every possible hat you can imagine with the Red Sox. He's pitched as a top of the line starter, a closer, middle reliever, in long relief, and everywhere in-between. Last night he took on the role of spot starter, and shined brightly in front a National audience on Sunday Night Baseball.
When you're asked to do a job and you do it well -- I take a lot of pride in that. - Tim Wakefield
Wakefield began pitching in the Major League's in 1992 with the Pirates. Think about that for a second. That's 19 seasons in the Big Leagues. What were you doing in 1992? I was a 12 year old punk whose favorite player of all-time was Mike Greenwell. I loved Greenwell so much that I even changed my batting stance in honor of him, pointing my left toe-up, much to the chagrin of my Dad and Coach. Mike Greenwell's last year as a player was in 1996, meaning he was a Teammate of Wake's for two full seasons, which I find pretty incredible.
Those Teams with Mike Greenwell, Mo Vaughn, and Jody Reed seem like they happened about five lifetimes ago, and in a baseball sense - they did. Wakefiled is like the Richard Alpert of the Red Sox. He's just always been around, and has been through so many incarnations of the Team. From different Owners, Front Offices, Managers, and Teammates, Wakefields always been the one constant for Red Sox fans, and I think we often take him for granted. He was with us through some pretty lean years in the 90's, he pitched that ball to Aaron Boone on the darkest of days. Wake came out of the bullpen in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS for the better of the Team, and he's now a mentor and silent leader on the Team, and an absolute saint off the field, doing more charity work than any Red Sox player, possibly ever.
I bet that if you look back on those pictures from the 1918 World Series you'll see that familiar face smiling at you from the back row, for I'm beginning to believe Wake's always been there to help steer the Sox in the direction of good, and it probably won't be until he's gone, that we'll truly understand all that he's done for the Sox and their fans.