Tim Wakefield has passed away from brain cancer at 57 (10/1 update)

YTF

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Thanks for confirming. I thought lack of a comment to the contrary that this might be the case. I wonder if there will be a lawsuit with all the Phillies and Royals and now Tim suffering from brain cancer after playing or managing on the surface.
I'm also curious if there might be other stadium related issues that might factor into this as well see that these stadiums opened within a three year span. Howser and Quiz from the Royals, Daulton and McGraw from the Phillies all with brain cancer. Anyone else from either of those teams or the Pirates?
 

Dewey Eyed Dreamer

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Jul 27, 2021
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I keep seeing references to the Aaron Boone HR. I didnt even remember that it was Wakefield pitching in that game.

For me the momentum had already shifted so much I felt it was only a matter of time. I dont think there is a single Sox fan who blames that game on Wake. Grady lost that game in the 7th inning.
 

Humphrey

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Aug 3, 2010
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I keep seeing references to the Aaron Boone HR. I didnt even remember that it was Wakefield pitching in that game.

For me the momentum had already shifted so much I felt it was only a matter of time. I dont think there is a single Sox fan who blames that game on Wake. Grady lost that game in the 7th inning.
8th, but otherwise agree 100% with you.
 

YTF

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I'm also curious if there might be other stadium related issues that might factor into this as well see that these stadiums opened within a three year span. Howser and Quiz from the Royals, Daulton and McGraw from the Phillies all with brain cancer. Anyone else from either of those teams or the Pirates?
Edit..Gary Carter played in Montreal's Olympic Stadium (opened in that era), Veteran's Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium as a long time member of the NL East Expos and Mets. Former Red Sox Ken Brett played two seasons each for Pittsburgh and K.C. Former catcher Johnny Oates played 2 seasons in Philly and IFer John Vukovich played 6.
 

debster812

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Oct 1, 2023
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Brand new poster to SOSH, and this very sad bit of news is what finally caused me to register.

I volunteer at the Jimmy Fund Marathon walk every year. Seems surreal, that Tim Wakefield, who was SUCH a supporter and champion of the Jimmy Fund Clinic, passed today. I hope he could feel just a bit of the positive energy we felt out on the course today.

I've met him a handful of times at other Jimmy Fund events, and he was always so kind, and so gracious. Just a huge loss for the world, not just MLB
 

Humphrey

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Aug 3, 2010
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It sounded to me as if he had glioblastoma which is one of the most quickly progressing and aggressive human cancers. Basically untreatable. Five year survival rate is very, very low.

Ill never forget the 1995 season. Clemens was hurt and the Sox were in dire need of an ace. All of a sudden this Tim Wakefield guy comes out of nowhere and is dominant for almost the entire summer with his knuckleball. What an incredible season. I loved watching him pitch. I was at the game in Fenway where he carried a shutout into 10th inning, surrendered a run, and in the bottom of the 10th Troy O Leary walked it off to give him the win. From that season on Tim was perhaps my favorite player. Seemed like a great guy and loyal to the Sox and the fanbase. How incredibly rare is that these days?
Same way it hit my aunt. Tumor diagnosed, seizure soon thereafter. Only in her case, she lingered in a semi coma for weeks.
 

Sam Ray Not

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Jul 19, 2005
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Fuck. Feels like I had five minutes to sort out my anger at G38 from secular-praying for Tim Wakefield and his family … and now he’s gone? Fuck, fuck, fuck. So unfair.

A Wakefield anecdote. I was at a little kaiseki restaurant in bucolic Kamakura, ca. 2006. The owner came to chat us up, and the conversation turned to baseball. When I said I was a fan of the Reddo Sokkusu, he grinned and immediately exclaimed,, “Chimu Uekufuirudo hazu gureeto nakkuruboru!!” (“Tim Wakefield has great knuckleball!”) I now always think of that guy when I think of Wakefield. So cool how his signature pitch — plus I imagine his distinctly zen mound presence — captured the imagination of a dude in a small town halfway around the world.

Here’s raising a glass of sake with that guy to Tim and his family.
 

Humphrey

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Aug 3, 2010
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Edit..Gary Carter played in Montreal's Olympic Stadium (opened in that era), Veteran's Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium as a long time member of the NL East Expos and Mets. Former Red Sox Ken Brett played two seasons each for Pittsburgh and K.C. Former catcher Johnny Oates played 2 seasons in Philly and IFer John Vukovich played 6.
Football players you would think would be more vulnerable, contact w/the stuff more frequent, multiple abrasions, etc. All of those places were multipurpose arenas. In any case, is any of that stuff around that they could do studies on? Seems really hard to prove anything.
 

YTF

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Football players you would think would be more vulnerable, contact w/the stuff more frequent, multiple abrasions, etc. All of those places were multipurpose arenas. In any case, is any of that stuff around that they could do studies on? Seems really hard to prove anything.
I never even thought of that. Quite a few less games played over the course of what is usually a short career, but certainly more time was actually spent touching the turf for most of them
 

Fishy1

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Nov 10, 2006
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Looked up to him growing up. Wanted to be as humble, as smooth in the turbulence, as charming.

Hug your loved ones and be kind to each other. You never know when they're gonna go.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Aug 1, 2001
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Bill Janovitz from Buffalo Tom wrote this fun song "The Ballad of Timmy Wakefield" back in 2009.
It's very fitting today of course:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZf9UeZa4uA

"There are plenty of people who will be crying when they hang up the spikes of Timmy Wakefield."
"True Red Sox fans know what they wish, to have 9 players just like Timmy Wakefield. Give me 9 players just like Timmy Wakefield."
 

YTF

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Brand new poster to SOSH, and this very sad bit of news is what finally caused me to register.

I volunteer at the Jimmy Fund Marathon walk every year. Seems surreal, that Tim Wakefield, who was SUCH a supporter and champion of the Jimmy Fund Clinic, passed today. I hope he could feel just a bit of the positive energy we felt out on the course today.

I've met him a handful of times at other Jimmy Fund events, and he was always so kind, and so gracious. Just a huge loss for the world, not just MLB
Welcome and thanks for sharing. It must have been such a mixed bag of emotions for those of you getting the news out there today.
 

Seels

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Jul 20, 2005
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I've had a real rocky relationship with my dad basically my whole life. On and off constantly. High highs, low lows.

Back in the 90s he took me to baseball games and baseball autograph sessions a lot. I had the chance of meeting Wakefield during his run in 95 and a couple times over the next couple years, until life hit and I left New England. I don't think my father ever really cared about baseball in any capacity - but he liked having me love it. He bribed some ushers back in 1994 at Arod's debut in Fenway and I got to meet most of the guys on both teams.

Wakefield for a lot of reasons would be my favorite player of the era. That really started in 2002 as he just seemlessly went from starter to reliever to starter, as the team needed, and without whining about it. But then 03 - being the MVP turned fall guy in the ALCS, and then 04 pitching in the 19-8 game and giving up his rotation spot to do so. He just exemplified selflessness, and there's not much more admirable than that. How long was he on that $4m contract for? And you constantly got 30 starts, 180-200 innings, and an above league average era+. He could have left at any point.

Anyway - fast forward almost 30 years later. After going years at times of not talking, I've reconciled with my father in the last few years. His health has deteriorarted and he's needed to be hospitalized every 3-5 weeks. Long term smoking really fucks everything up.

Two weeks ago my dad, still somewhat young at 62, was put on hospice. He doesn't have much left, somewhere between a few weeks and a few months. Too hard a life. Today Wakefield died. I texted him asking him if he remembered the times we were able to meet him. He's on too many meds for it, and doesn't remember much, but he was thankful that I remembered it.

Life's too short :(
 

Andy Merchant

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Aug 2, 2010
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Man, I had a hard time watching the Varitek postgame interview. My son opened a bottle of wine he just bought and I had a couple in Tim's honor.
 

TFisNEXT

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Jul 21, 2005
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I didn’t hear the news until late this afternoon. Utterly heartbreaking. He was just on NESN earlier in September…had no idea it was going to be that quick after the cancer news broke a few days ago.

I know he wasn’t ever truly a dominant player for the Red Sox outside of that magical summer of 1995, but I wouldn’t mind seeing #49 retired. He was just a staple of the Red Sox for so long and was as classy and genuinely caring as anyone…nevermind a pro athlete.
 

Whoop-La White

used to be zougwa
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One detail I remember is that Wake apparently had exquisite handwriting, and so was routinely called upon to write the information on the baseball (date, inning, opposing pitcher, etc.) whenever a Red Sox player got their first ML hit. Maybe first strikeouts for pitchers, too. It’s beautiful to think of a whole generation of retired players having baseballs in their trophy cases with his lettering on them.
 

Redkluzu

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Dec 10, 2007
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Bill Janovitz from Buffalo Tom wrote this fun song "The Ballad of Timmy Wakefield" back in 2009.
It's very fitting today of course:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZf9UeZa4uA

"There are plenty of people who will be crying when they hang up the spikes of Timmy Wakefield."
"True Red Sox fans know what they wish, to have 9 players just like Timmy Wakefield. Give me 9 players just like Timmy Wakefield."
This is really sweet and made me smile. Tim would love it. Thanks for posting.
 

TFisNEXT

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One detail I remember is that Wake apparently had exquisite handwriting, and so was routinely called upon to write the information on the baseball (date, inning, opposing pitcher, etc.) whenever a Red Sox player got their first ML hit. Maybe first strikeouts for pitchers, too. It’s beautiful to think of a whole generation of retired players having baseballs in their trophy cases with his lettering on them.
Yeah iirc he was an expert in script cursive writing…typically what you see on awards/diplomas…things like that. I remember hearing that story too now that you brought it up. Thanks for remembering that.
 

Jimbodandy

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Jan 31, 2006
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This sucks. A good man taken too young. I'm grateful to Tim for his deeds on and off the field. We were lucky to have gotten to know him just a little.
 

strek1

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Jun 13, 2006
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I don't ever recall seeing Jim Rice get emotional about anything. To see him get choked up talking about Wake makes it hit home how loved Tim was.
 

mr_smith02

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Nov 29, 2003
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Do you think there's any chance the posts in this thread (sans the Schilling stuff) could be sent to the Wakefield family? There are some truly heartwarming stories throughout this thread about Timmy.
 

InsideTheParker

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Jul 15, 2005
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Just found this old article from a 2004 New Yorker while I was looking for something else.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/05/17/project-knuckleball
Thanks so much for this.
I didn't know the following:
The uniform number 49, worn by Wakefield, and previously by Hough and Candiotti, serves as an unofficial pledge pin, honoring Hoyt Wilhelm, the most famous mid-century knuckleballer, whose career reflects many of the perks and humiliations of the tribe. Wilhelm was a few months shy of his thirtieth birthday when he was finally called upon to throw his first big-league pitch, for the New York Giants, in 1952. Over the course of twenty years, serving reliably as both a starter and a reliever, he was released four times, sold twice, traded four times, and offered up once to the expansion draft. Yet when he retired, just a week before his fiftieth birthday, he’d managed to pitch in more games than any player in history, and he was later inducted into the Hall of Fame.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Just one of those guys you felt so lucky to have on the team that you root for. That’s the bottom line.
 

donutogre

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It sounded to me as if he had glioblastoma which is one of the most quickly progressing and aggressive human cancers. Basically untreatable. Five year survival rate is very, very low.
Seems almost certain. My grandfather died of it when he was 71, and my mother-in-law’s husband died when he was 65. Grandfather went very quickly and didn’t get much treatment, while Ken made it 13 months.
The whole problem is this shit is in your brain, and you can take out as much of it as possible and then treat it, but there’s no way to get it all because it’s in your fucking brain so it just comes back and you’re totally worn down already and can’t handle surgery and then that’s that. Except there’s a few months of really sad end stage stuff. Just horrible. At least it’s rare, but I feel like I’ve heard about it far too much.
 

Pearl Wilson

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Dec 24, 2003
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I'm still processing this terrible news but I'm here with the rest of you to pay tribute to a guy who loomed large in many of my moments of joy and pain. More than that, he left a long trail of people who loved and admired him for the person that he was, for how he showed up, over and over. Sad as his passing makes me, I'm enjoying the tributes and the memories shared. RIP.
 

Sox Pride

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Nov 25, 2005
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The Triangle
A sad day for Red Sox nation.
My sincere condolences to his friends and family
I felt like we all knew him and will miss him.
He will be remembered fondly.
 

CaptainLaddie

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Sep 6, 2004
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Football players you would think would be more vulnerable, contact w/the stuff more frequent, multiple abrasions, etc. All of those places were multipurpose arenas. In any case, is any of that stuff around that they could do studies on? Seems really hard to prove anything.
Eh. Football players were playing primarily in cold weather, at most 8-10 times a year. Baseball players were playing in the summer, with temps in the 90s at times (and often in the 110s on the field), 81+ times a year.

I don't think it's coincidence that there's a good number of baseball players who played on Astroturf or a carpet of some kind have had brain cancer.
 

OCD SS

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So sad to hear this. This seems like a good time to share a poem written by my wife so long ago. We'll miss him in our house.


I SOX NEW YORK

We have cable now, and Extra Innings,
so no more bars, where I have to put up with the girlfriend treatment
from the guys who talk about the game with my husband
and who see me, maybe, but don't hear a thing I have to say
about Schilling's pitching or the umpire's calls;
when the truth of the matter is
that my husband was born in Tacoma, Washington
and never once set foot in Boston, let alone Fenway,
until I took him there
on August 23, 2003, when Byung-Hyun Kim blew the save
but the Sox came out ahead anyway
with an RBI double by Millar in the tenth.
There, in our grandstand seats under the wide blue sky,
my husband, then my boyfriend,
tapped into something he left in his Minnesota boyhood
at the Metrodome, where they play baseball indoors,
on a carpet; and now our home is filled
with books of statistics that my husband uses to explain
why we are better off now without
Nomar or Pedro or D-Lowe or Johnny,
but I miss them all, how I loved them
even when they were beautiful losers
with unkempt hair.
But I only ever loved baseball
as a poet does, for the greeny hope of April
and how the languid days of summer bring that hope
into the diminishing light of October;
for the stolen base that wins it all
and the game-saving double play;
and for the miracle of grass in the midst of the city.
I might like baseball better, says my husband,
if I didn't hate the Yankees so much. He has no idea
how completely lost I get in Yankee Stadium,
where I feel how very small I am,
my little hands and little voice drowning in the roar
and the beery rage of the righteous.
Johnny or Manny might get confused, but
Tim Wakefield, at least, knows what he wants:
to be with the Red Sox forever;
and his knuckleball still confounds the pinstriped sluggers.
Once he releases the pitch, no-one knows where it's going,
not the batter, not the catcher;
not even he knows what will happen
as the ball wobbles its way toward the plate.

Rachael Lynn Nevins
written spring 2006