Today was a sad day for all of New England. Tim Wakefield passed away. Klemmer already wrote a fitting tribute to the man who was universally loved by Red Sox Nation, but I’d be remiss not to at least mention my favorite Tim Wakefield story. And that of course is the Doug Mirabelli story. It all started when Wake’s personal catcher Doug Mirabelli left for the Padres in the off season. Red Sox fans didn’t think much of it until his replacement Josh Bard showed a total inability to catch Wake’s knuckler. Every other pitch it seemed made it’s way to the backstop.
So with Wakefield scheduled to pitch against the Yankees that night at Fenway, Theo Epstein made a trade to bring Mirabelli back to Boston. The only problem was that Mirabelli was in San Diego when the trade was completed at 10am Est. What ensued was a mad dash to get Mirabelli from the West Coast to Boston in time for the game. Mirabelli landed at Logan Airport precisely 12 minutes before the 1st pitch. He received a police escort to Fenway while changing into his uniform in the car. Mirabelli was met with a raucous ovation usually reserved for a conquering king not a journeyman catcher. But in Boston Mirabelli became a folk hero simply because he was the only guy who could catch Wake’s knuckleball. The State police later would say it was a misallocation of resources and it wouldn't happpen again. It was just a perfectly Boston moment. A window into how much the city cared about the Red Sox and Tim Wakefield. A guy who throughout his 17 year career never had a bad word to say or a bad word said about him. A guy who was on the mound for some of the best and worst moments in Red Sox history. A guy who if you grew up in Boston seemed to be in you life as long as your family and friends. A guy who everybody young and old tried to mimic his trademark knuckleball at family barbecues. A guy who was universally loved throughout New England and was taken from us far too soon. RIP Wake. We lost a great one.