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article imageRed Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield calls it quits

By Arthur Weinreb     Feb 18, 2012 in Sports
Fort Myers - After 19 years in the majors, the last 17 with the Boston Red Sox, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield announced his retirement yesterday.
Wakefield thought he had at least one good year left. After reaching the milestone of recording his 200th career win last September against the Toronto Blue Jays, the 45-year-old pitcher was chasing a record.
In his 17 seasons with Boston, Wakefield recorded 186 wins for the Sox. He needed just seven more wins to beat the record of 192 Red Sox wins held jointly by Cy Young and Roger Clemens. Former teammate Johnny Damon was quoted by the Boston Herald as saying the record "meant the world to him."
But it was not to be. Boston general manager Bud Cherington refused to sign Wakefield to a major league contract. All the veteran was offered was a minor league contract and a chance to make the Red Sox roster. After it became apparent that he would have no guarantee to make the big team, Wakefield discussed the matter with his family and decided to pack it in.
Yesterday, Wakefield made the announcement standing in left field at the Red Sox spring training stadium in Fort Meyers, Florida. Described in the Boston Herald as "eyes watering and voice cracking," Wakefield said, There is nothing I want more than for the team to win and it's hard sometimes to take yourself out of the decision process. But in my heart I feel that, by retiring, I'm giving them a better chance to do that.
About seeking the record for most wins as a Red Sox pitcher, Wakefield said, To be honest with you, seven wins aren't going to make me a different person or a better man.
Praise came quickly after Wakefield announced he was ending his career. The Boston Globe quoted BoSox catcher Jason Varitek as saying, There is so much to say about Wake. He has been part of so many things and he's meant so much to the game, the organization, the community, and personally as a friend and teammate for 14 years. He is a consummate professional with a one-of-a-kind talent that allowed this team flexibility, dependability, and endurance for 17 years. His competitiveness will be missed but his legacy and friendship will last a lifetime. It's sad to see it end but this will be an exciting new chapter for him in his life.
Others who paid tribute to the veteran upon his retirement from the game include Doug Mirabelli, Nomar Garciaparra, Terry Francona, and Jim Leyland.
Wakefield was born on Aug. 6, 1966 in Melbourne, FL. According to the Baseball Encyclopedia, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth round of the 1988 draft. He made his major league debut with the Pirates on July 31, 1992.
In 1993, Wakefield went 6-11 with Pittsburgh and had an ERA of 5.61. He was sent down to the minors and spent the 1994 season with the Pirates' Triple A affiliate in Buffalo. At the beginning of the 1995 season he was released by Pittsburgh and picked up by the Boston Red Sox where he remained until his retirement yesterday.
Despite not achieving the most wins in the team's history, he does hold two other club records. He's pitched more innings (3,006) and made the most starts (430) of any pitcher in Red Sox history. And unlike Cy Young and Roger Clemens, Wakefield has two World Series rings after Boston won the championship in 2004 and 2007.
As teammate Jon Lester put it, It's the end of an era, that's what it is.
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