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February 20, 2012

Ten Things About Tim Wakefield

When Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield announced his retirement Friday it marked the end of an era.

For 19 seasons, we've watched his knuckleball flutter and baffle opponents to the tune of 200 career victories.  And, sure, it took a slew of starts this past season to get to that mark, but when he did...the 45-year-old became just the seventh knuckleballer (Phil Niekro, Ted Lyons, Joe Niekro, Charlie Hough, Jesse Haines and Eddie Cicotte were the others) to do it.
Here are ten more things about Tim Wakefield that you might not have known.

After being up for the Roberto Clemente Award seven times, Wakefield finally took home the award on his eighth and final nomination in 2010.

Of dude's 200 wins, 186 of them came with the Red Sox...placing him third all-time with the club.  Ahead of the knuckleballer, pitching immortals Cy Young and Roger Clemens with 192 apiece.

Over the course of his 19-year big league career, Wakefield plunked 186 batters...ranking him seventh all-time.  Twice (in 1997 and 2001), he led the league in hit batsmen.

In Tim Wakefield's Major League debut, he threw 146 pitches.  While a high pitch count isn't that out of character for a knuckleballer, his pitching line was.  The rookie threw a complete game shutout...striking out ten St. louis Cardinals in the process.

Even though the right handed pitcher was a record breaking hitter while in college for the Florida Tech Panthers (more on that later), Wakefield only managed at .117 career batting average.  In 1993, he hit his only big league home run when he took Houston Astros righty (and eventual Red Sox teammate) Mark Portugal deep.

Of all the pitchers that have taken to the mound at Fenway Park since it opened, only seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens (100) has more victories at the century old stadium than Wakefield's 97.

44 years, 282 days
When the knuckleballer relieved John Lackey on May 11, 2011, he became, at 44 years, 282 days...the oldest player to ever appear for the Red Sox.

In 1987, then-first baseman Tim Wakefield set a Florida Tech record with 22 home runs and 71 RBI.  Over his career, the one-time Panther hit a school-high 40 dingers.

On August 10, 1999...Wakefield struck out four Kansas City Royals in the ninth inning to become just the fifteenth American League pitcher to accomplish the task.  Incidentally, then-Anaheim Angels pitcher Chuck Finley accomplished the feat twice in the same season.

Possibly more important than any of these other numbers...Wakefield is a two-time World Champion.  The veteran was a member of both the 2004 and 2007 Boston Red Sox teams.

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