Derek Lowe, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, has fond memories of his teammate and friend, Tim Wakefield, who passed away recently at the age of 57 from cancer. Lowe recalls one particular moment when he was at a career low and struggling on the mound. During the 2004 season, Lowe had a 5.42 ERA, the worst of his eight seasons in Boston. In September, he was informed that he would not be part of the team’s postseason rotation and would instead be in the bullpen. Lowe was upset and considered going home before the playoffs began. However, a conversation with Wakefield changed his mind.
Lowe remembers Wakefield as a great listener who wasn’t afraid to tell the truth. Wakefield asked Lowe if he would pitch him right now and whether he believed he could help the team. Lowe had to admit that he wouldn’t pitch himself and that he couldn’t help the team as a starter. Wakefield and Jason Varitek gave him honest feedback, and they were both correct in their assessment. Although Lowe was initially focused on himself and the financial implications of not being in the postseason rotation, Wakefield reminded him of the bigger picture. Going home would mean never pitching for the Red Sox again and not being able to help the team during their World Series run.
Lowe credits Wakefield with saving his career when he volunteered to pitch in a mop-up spot in Game 3 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Yankees. This allowed Lowe to pitch in Game 4 instead of Wakefield. Lowe performed exceptionally well in the postseason and became a highly sought-after free agent, eventually signing a lucrative contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Wakefield’s willingness to put the team first and close out Game 3 set the stage for the Red Sox’s historic comeback and their eventual World Series win. Lowe reflects on Wakefield’s selflessness and how he always looked out for what was best for the team. Their friendship grew stronger after retiring from baseball, particularly on the golf course where they were both skilled golfers.
Lowe feels devastated by Wakefield’s passing and regrets not spending more time with him in his final weeks. However, he cherishes the memories they shared and is grateful for the friendship they had for over 25 years. Lowe believes that Wakefield’s greatness went beyond his success on the field. He was not only a great baseball player but also an exceptional human being who cared about others and made a positive impact after his career was over.
In the end, Derek Lowe reflects on the legacy of Tim Wakefield and how he will always be remembered as a great man who touched the lives of those around him. While Wakefield’s baseball accomplishments were impressive, it is his character and kindness that truly stood out. Lowe considers himself fortunate to have had Wakefield in his life and is grateful for the lessons he learned from him.