Skip to comments.Old knuckleballer cracks first All-Star team
Posted on 07/06/2009 12:09:33 PM PDT by Artemis Webb
BOSTON Tim Wakefield was in the weight room when Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell ducked his head in Sunday morning and said that the knuckleballer was wanted in Terry Franconas office.
The office door was closed when Wakefield arrived; when it opened, Wakefield saw a stream of teammates Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett and Jason Bay all walking out with All-Star packets for the July 14 game in St. Louis. Francona, with a solemn face, beckoned for Wakefield to enter.
The charade didnt last. Francona, a better manager than actor, cracked up, and informed Wakefield that he, too, was an All-Star for the first time in his 17-year career. Wakefield was added to the American League staff by Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon after the players voted in five starters and three relievers, proving, to paraphrase Muhammad Ali, that a knuckleball can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
I feel very honored and humbled at the same time, excited and nervous, said Wakefield, a failed minor league first baseman who took up the knuckleball as a last chance to salvage his career, had a sensational rookie debut with Pittsburgh in 1992 only to be released three years later, was grabbed off the scrap heap by Boston and now ranks as elder statesman on the Red Sox.
At 42 years and 346 days, Wakefield becomes the second-oldest player to make his All-Star debut, behind only the legendary Satchel Paige, who was 46 years and 1 day when he represented the St. Louis Browns at the 1952 game.
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I wish, oh HOW I WISH, I could learn to throw a knuckleball better than anyone. Of course, I guess that’s the desire of a lot of 30-something men out there.
God bless him!
The Neikro brothers were good knuckleballers. Watch some old video of them. I loved watching Phil warm up or just mess around in the bullpen at Atlanta-Fulton county Stadium. Good times! Bad team though.
Really glad for Wake.
He is one of the really good guys in baseball.
A good guy on and off the field gets a chance to partake in the All-Star game. Meanwhile cheaters A-Rod and Manny are home. Something feels right about that state of affairs.
Should be interesting to see how Wakefield's catcher fares.
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Yes, Murph came up in the late 70’s and was with the club until 89 I think. Great guy! He would always sighn autographs at the stadium.
in another sterling example of the sort of baseball geniuses who have been running the Pittsburgh Pirates, they determined that Wakefield was washed-up and sent him packing...in 1994! They have not smelled .500 since. Good for ya, Timmy!
I wish that was true of things beyond baseball...but thank God for baseball.
Until you’ve actually thrown a knuckleball, the way it’s supposed to be thrown, it’s hard to have an appreciation of just how amazingly weird it looks in flight.
I was a pitcher in my younger days, and have perhaps thrown a dozen or fewer “perfect” knuckleballs (out of hundreds of attempts), but I’ll never forget what it looks like. Your jaw drops because it’s hard to believe what your eyes have just seen. I never had to try to hit a good knuckleball pitcher.
Watching his pitches in slow motion is really awesome, and, if he pitches in the All-Star Game, his catcher is really going to be “in hell”.
“It Happens Every Spring”
(Though Kelly was a cheat.)
I remember Phil Niekro being on a few All-Star teams but didn’t get to pitch in the game because no one on the roster could catch his knuckleball.
[I was a pitcher in my younger days, and have perhaps thrown a dozen or fewer perfect knuckleballs (out of hundreds of attempts), but Ill never forget what it looks like. Your jaw drops because its hard to believe what your eyes have just seen. I never had to try to hit a good knuckleball pitcher.]
I used to help train my younger brother in high school,he was really pretty good. A good knuckleball is a sight to behold, a bad one sails over the fence.
Yeah, I doubt Mirabelli will be playing.
You mean until you’ve actually CAUGHT a knuckleball...
Ain't it the truth. And the difference between a decent knuckleball and a bad one is slim. Just a 1/2 a rotation or so.
Very happy for him. As others have stated, he’s a great human being. A real gamer, too. He’s been asked to do pretty much everything and anything and he always steps up. Chews up innings (most of the time) so they don’t have to dip into middle relief any more than they have to.
I have yet to see him on Charlie Moore’s show but I hear it’s about as fun as it can get watching someone fish.
Joe Mauer of the Twins will be starting catcher.
I believe they have a knuckleballer on the pitching staff.
I have caught them playing catch, but never behind the plate in a real game. And now that I think about it, catching a good knuckleballer would be a daunting task. I do think though that the actual joy of watching that sucker wiggle is best viewed from the mound. :)
Here you go: http://www.knuckleballhq.com/
I can still throw a devastating knuckleball. Trouble is, it only travels 59 feet.
I can throw a doozy knuckler with a 12 inch softball, but I have tried several grips and can’t do very well with a baseball.
For the Red Sox Wakefield has been everything. He has started, worked long and short relief and has been the closer. And they got him off waivers. What a deal.
And his contract is like none other in baseball. Basically its a handshake, 1 year deal $5 million per. If he’s up to it, he comes back. If Sox say enough’s enough, he retires.
Well said, misterrob. Congratulations to good-guy Tim Wakefield! I'm so happy for him...
The perfect pitch in baseball, and seen far too infrequently! I give you.... The knuckle ball!
I’ve only batted against one person who could throw one... It was like chasing a mouse!
Two quotes: “The easiest way to catch a knuckleball is to wait for it to stop rolling and then pick it up.” -???
“You don’t want a knuckleballer pitching to or for your team.” - a paraphrase from Tommy Lasorda
That is one great thing about knuckleballers, the wear and tear on their arm is much less than other pitchers so they have longevity both in playing years and innings pitched per game.
It should be fun watching Wake baffle them in the All Star game. :-)
We had a catcher (which one escapes me at the moment) who had a special glove for knuckleballers that I thought was some sort of gag when first I saw it. Thing was enormous. And it wasn't big enough.
Bob Uecker said it: “The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up.”
--- Bob Uecker
Remember when Dante Bichet (sp?) tried to learn the knuckleball? Poor devil - it just didnt work out.
Very happy for Wake. Class act.
Must've been before Tom Candiotti won 50+ games for him from 92-96. He never had a winning record for him, though. I wonder if Piazza had to catch for him.
Oops - forgot to close the tag.
My left-handed mit was an RBG 36 Dale Murphy signature. I had it from my softball days through my youth baseball coaching days. My sons had no idea who he was. For a while he was the only decent player in Atlanta.
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