On Sunday, the Boston Red Sox announced the tragic news that former pitcher Tim Wakefield had passed away from brain cancer.
The heartbreaking announcement immediately triggered an outpouring of grief and support from Red Sox Nation, including fans and players alike. Wakefield was a beloved member of Boston’s organization for nearly three decades as a player, broadcaster and pillar of the community.
Many of Wakefield’s former teammates were hit hard by the devastating news, including franchise icon David Ortiz, who played alongside Wakefield from 2003 until the latter’s final season in 2011.
David Ortiz Tim Wakefield Tribute
Ortiz posted a touching tribute to Wakefield on Twitter on Monday, twice referring to Wakefield as a brother. The two men experienced a lot of highs and lows together, from World Series championships in 2004 and 2007 to devastating collapses in 2003 and 2011.
Big Papi is an emotional guy, as we saw during his charged speech after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, so it’s hard not to feel his pain here.
Wakefield’s former catcher Jason Varitek played with him even longer, going back to 1997. Fittingly, the batterymates retired together following the 2011 season.
Varitek, who is currently on the Red Sox coaching staff, also got visibly distraught when speaking about Wakefield after Boston’s final game of the season on Sunday.
Varitek fought through tears to answer reporters’ questions and had nothing but praise for his former teammate, highlighting Wakefield’s professionalism, pride and respect for the game.
Both Varitek and Ortiz hit the nail on the head. It’s incredibly hard to be a good major league ballplayer, and even harder to do it while being a great family man and presence in the community. Wakefield managed to be all of those things for a long time and until the very end, maintaining impressive grace, courage and dignity.
People like Wakefield truly are irreplaceable, because they don’t come around very often.
In case you’re not tearing up yet, here are some more tributes from former teammates: