Tim Wakefield, who nearly lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates to the World Series in 1992 as a rookie with his baffling knuckleball, died Sunday of brain cancer. He was 57.
Wakefield is best known for pitching 17 seasons with the Boston Red Sox after being released by the Pirates in spring training in 1995.
However, Wakefield made a dazzling debut with the Pirates in ’92, going 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 13 starts. He then pitched two complete-game victories over Atlanta in the National League Championship Series, though the Braves ultimately won the series in seven games.
Wakefield struggled the following season, going 6-11 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 games. He spent the entire 1994 season at Triple-A Buffalo but was then cut in 1995 following a poor outing during an intrasquad game in spring training.
Wakefield, though, signed the Red Sox following his release and became a fixture in Boston. He finished with 200 career wins and two World Series titles before retiring following the 2011 season.
“He was a great man who will be dearly missed,” the Pirates said in a statement released by the team.