Boston Red Sox owner Tom Werner made the following statement today on the retirement of pitcher Tim Wakefield during a news conference at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.
Good afternoon, thank you all for coming.
This has been an emotional day for all of us, especially for me I consider Tim to be one of my closest friends. I'm very pleased that he's here with Stacy and their children Trevor and Brianna and so many of his Red Sox teammates. Thank you all for coming.
More than 20 years ago, a right-handed hitting first baseman from Florida had dreams of becoming a Major League Baseball player. He made it through college ball, he made it into the minors, but the major leagues would prove elusive for him as a first baseman. At such a juncture, many would have quit, but he did not. Instead, he found a way to keep the dream alive.
And he trained his fingertips to throw a knuckleball with precision. His journey continued and he made it into the majors for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992. And after a couple of seasons, without a knuckleball mentor, he was back in the minors...and not just Triple-A, way down. At such a juncture, many would have quit, but he did not. Instead, he found a way to keep his dream alive and he came to a home where impossible dreams come true...and they did year after year after splendid year.
And then came 2003, a remarkable but excruciating year because of the way it ended. Tim, as you all remember, had actually won Game 1 and Game 4 of the ALCS. And, as we remember, we were ahead in Game 7 4-0 in the early innings and 5-2 before things had changed. Tim pitched a scoreless 10th and then faced that leadoff batter in the bottom of the 11th when Aaron Boone ended our season.
I remember talking to Tim a few days after that and he was concerned about how Red Sox nation would treat Tim in the offseason. But I said to him what everybody in Red Sox nation said: we only have thanks to you for what you've done, not just this year but all your years as a Red Sox.
And I remember that year when we went to the writers' dinner in January and he got a standing ovation. Because we all admired Tim, not just for his courage but for the way year after year he has done what he has done for the Red Sox on and off the field. And then, the glory of 2004, where Tim demonstrated once again the very qualities that we've all admired.
In Game 5 of the ALCS, it was a marathon that went 14 innings and Tim came on to pitch those last three innings. With Jason Varitek behind the plate trying to handle his knuckleball. And that long outing would prevent Tim from taking his turn in the rotation the next day but he sacrificed again so that the Red Sox could win, and win we did. We all know the end of this story and I remember Tim was the very first player that I grabbed in St. Louis because I knew how much that ring, that season, the history of the Red Sox meant to him and to all of us.
So today, on behalf of John Henry and Larry Lucchino and our partners, every player who has worn a Red Sox uniform during the past 17 years and all of our fans we say thank you Tim. Thank you to that young man who never quit. Thank you to the man who sacrificed and always put team first. Thank you for the two parades. Thank you for amassing more starts and more innings than any other pitcher in the history of our 111-year-old club. Thank you for the remarkable work you've done off the diamond and your work here in Florida with the Space Coast Early Intervention Center in your hometown of Melbourne...to Boston where the Wakefield Warriors program is renown, the Franciscan Hospital for Children. You've tirelessly raised funds for Pitching In For Kids, for the Jimmy Fund, for whatever you're asked to do and for our Red Sox Foundation. So it's no wonder you were Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award winner.
Tim, your arm has put you in the record books but it's matched by your heart, which will forever be celebrated in Red Sox nation. Thank you.