Tim Wakefield has announced his retirement from the game of baseball after 19 seasons. The Red Sox rubber arm had a remarkable run given the nature of his specialty pitch: the knuckleball. This pitch can be virtually unhittable, and even harder for hitters to pick up when Wakefield’s knuckleball was locked in. Even though No.49 will always be remembered for surrendering the home run to Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the ALCS, Wakefield was always a reliable arm for the Red Sox over the years, helping set a foundation for the World Series runs that occurred in and. Retirement was a tough pill to swallow for Wakefield, but he’s leaving the door open for a possible return if needed. Tim Wakefield joined WEEI in Boston with The Big Show to discuss his retirement decision settling in, the decision making process that led him to retire, the moment he decided he would retire, being the Boston Red Sox 6th or 7th option as a starting pitcher this season, and entertaining the idea of coming out of retirement for the Red Sox if needed.
Has retirement settled in yet?
“No. It’s a real feeling for me. It’s hard to imagine that today’s the first day for pitchers and catchers to be in camp. Today’s a tough day for me, not being there and knowing that I’m not going to be there. It’s just something I have to adapt to now.”
Give us a sense of the back-and-fourth with this decision and who was involved outside of the family in these talks?
“Well I made a lot of phone calls to a lot of guys, but ultimately it’s a decision you have to make for yourself. Most of the guys I had spoken to said the same thing. It’s something that nobody can lure you either way and it’s a decision that I wrestled with for most of the off-season on what I was going to do. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a very hard decision when you are passionate about something you have done for most of my adult life to take yourself out of the equation and really focus in on who matters most and that was more important my family. It makes the decision a little bit easier.”
When did that light bulb moment come when you decided you would retire?
“When my wife and I actually sat my two kids down. I didn’t want to get them involved in it early in the off-season and when I finally kind of sat them down and told them what daddy was thinking of doing and these are consequences if daddy doesn’t play anymore. This is what is going to happen. If I play I am going to be gone and I won’t see you for weeks and weeks at a time, but ultimately it was their opinion that kind of swayed me to retire.”
Did you even consider being a pitcher on this team that might not be active unless an injury occurred? You may have been the #6, #7 or #8 pitcher? Did you entertain this idea?
“I actually was. I was definitely entertaining the idea. The Red Sox were very cordial in keeping me in the loop with everything that was going on. I just wanted to play another year, obviously, and it didn’t matter if I was a No. 5 starter or a 6 or 7 starter. I wanted to try to help to contribute to bringing another World Series championship back to the city of Boston. Ultimately, it came to putting the Red Sox first and my family first.”
So you would have sat around and kind of kept in shape and maybe come back later on in the season?
The Red Sox wouldn’t use you out of the gate and what is to prevent them from still doing that half way through the season?
“Nothing’s going to prevent them from doing that. Hopefully it won’t get to that point. [Glenn Ordway: Your kids may get sick of you?] It’s hard to fathom, but I’m at peace with my decision. It’s something that didn’t come lightly, obviously. If I do get a call in May or June or whatever, I’ll have to entertain those options.”