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Former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield dies from brain cancer

Three days after it was revealed that former star pitcher Tim Wakefield had brain cancer, the Boston Red Sox released a statement on Sunday announcing the star’s passing. In this sad story, controversy has arisen surrounding the announcement of Wakefield’s cancer.

It was not Wakefield or his family who revealed the news of the diagnosis but a former teammate of his, Curt Schilling. On his podcast, Schilling said:

“Tim Wakefield is sick. Tim was recently diagnosed with a very serious, aggressive form of brain cancer. The situation in Tim’s case is dire, and he went in and had surgery.”

In Schilling’s podcast, he also stated that Wakefield’s wife, Stacy, was also battling pancreatic cancer. Following Schilling’s outing of Wakefield’s illness, the Red Sox would release a statement of their own:

“We are aware of the statements and inquiries about the health of Tim and Stacy Wakefield. Unfortunately, this information has been shared publicly without their permission. Their health is a deeply personal matter they intend to keep private as they navigate treatment and work to tackle this disease. Tim and Stacy appreciate the support and love that has always been extended to them and respectfully ask for privacy at this time.”

Even though Wakefield was a pitcher for his entire major league career, he was drafted as a first baseman by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth round in 1988. After being told he would never go past Double-A level, Wakefield switched to pitcher and developed his famous knuckleball and quickly rose up the ranks of the minor leagues, debuting in the majors in 1992, where he would play for two seasons between the major league and Triple-A team before being cut and signing with the Red Sox.

In his first season with Boston, Wakefield proved to be a steal of a signing. With starters Roger Clemens and Aaron Sele struggling, Wakefield was called up from Triple-A. Throughout his first 17 games, he had a 1.65 ERA, a 14–1, and six complete games. While he cooled off to end the year, he still finished with a 16-8 record with a 2.95 era, being a significant part of the Red Sox winning the American League East title and winning Comeback Player of the Year.

Throughout his next three seasons, Wakefield never regained his glory of 1995, though he was still a serviceable starter. In 1999, closer Tom Gordon was injured, and Wakefield was switched to closer and would pick up 15 saves before Derek Lowe replaced him, though, through his success, he would regularly come out of the bullpen for the rest of his career.

Wakefield was a major part of Boston winning their first title in 86 years, helping the Red Sox defeat the New York Yankees in game 3 of the ALCS, pitching over three innings though only pitched game 1 of the World Series. He was also part of the team that won in 2007, though he was injured during the run to the title. Wakefield would play until 2011, when he retired after the 2011 season, third all-time in wins behind Clemens and Cy Young.

Outside of baseball, Wakefield was also known to be charitable off the field. He worked closely with Pitching in for Kids, a charity dedicated to providing specifically earmarked grants designed to improve the lives of children across the New England region. He was nominated by the Red Sox eight times for the Roberto Clemente Award, an award to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions, both on and off the field, and won it in 2010.

Wakefield will be remembered for his long baseball career and his incredible legacy off the field that will live on forever through the countless people he has helped.

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