Wakefield Retires as Baseball’s Oldest Player After 19 Seasons

Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, the oldest active player in Major League Baseball, is retiring after 19 seasons and 200 wins.

Wakefield, 45, will make the announcement later today at a press conference from the team’s spring training facility in Florida, the Red Sox said in an e-mailed statement. The 45-year-old knuckleball pitcher retires as baseball’s active leader in wins (200), losses (180), home runs allowed (418) and innings pitched (3,226 1/3).

Wakefield signed with the Red Sox in 1995 after being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates. In spring training with Boston that year he worked with Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, another knuckleballer, developing the pitch that helped him win 1995 American League Comeback Player of the Year and defined his career.

Over 17 years with the Red Sox, he never pitched in less than 20 games, including a 49-appearance season in 1999 when he started 17 games and had 15 saves in relief. He won 10 or more games 11 times, most recently in 2009.

A member of World Series-champion teams in 2004 and 2007 with the Red Sox, Wakefield was 5-7 in the postseason. Perhaps his most memorable playoff moment came in the seventh game of the 2003 AL Championship Season against New York, when Wakefield gave up an 11th-inning home run to Aaron Boone that sent the Yankees to the World Series.

Wakefield, who worked out of the bullpen in parts of his final two seasons, won his 200th game on Sept. 13 at Fenway Park after eight previous attempts while at 199. He received a standing ovation from the crowd and was doused in champagne following the milestone.

In 2009, at 42, he became the oldest first-time All-Star in MLB history, according to radio station WEEI in Boston. He finishes with 186 wins in a Red Sox uniform, trailing Roger Clemens and Cy Young, who both won 192.

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