For Tim Wakefield, Florida Tech was a springboard to his successful baseball career. In 1988, he was drafted in the eighth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Florida Tech as a power-hitting first baseman. The records he set while at Florida Tech still stand.
He quickly discovered his bat wasn’t good enough for the major leagues, so he became a knuckleball pitcher. A drastic makeover to master the trick pitch ensued, and his knuckleball instantly proved successful, leading the Pittsburgh minor leagues in: wins, innings, pitches, and complete games. This success catapulted him into the major leagues in 1992. His season was so good, he nearly led the Pirates into a World Series appearance. Everyone expected his next year to be his best yet; instead, he was devastated when he lost control of his pitches and ultimately returned to the minor leagues.
The following season, he was released. But Panthers don’t give up that easily . . . Determined to return to the glory of the major leagues, Tim tapped into his Panther Pride and the valuable lessons learned early in his athletic career by Coach Les Hall, Florida Tech’s legendary baseball coach. As luck would have it, the Boston Red Sox saw potential in Wakefield, and knuckleball coaching combined with dedication revived his baseball career. For the next seventeen years, he provided the Boston Red Sox with the right pitch at the right time. With 430 starts and 3,006 innings pitched, Tim is now the franchise leader in stats. And as any baseball fan knows, he was part of the team that broke the “Curse of the Bambino” and helped lead the Boston Red Sox to the World Series Championship in 2004. He was a World Series Champion again in 2007.
Off the field, Wakefield helps his community and those less fortunate, embodying the spirit of the Roberto Clemente Award he received in 2010. In Brevard County, it is well known that he played a major role to save the Space Coast Early Intervention Center by holding an annual golf tournament that continues to this day. For his fellow ballers, he spent time on the field in the off-season with Panther Baseball. His contributions—along with others—made the Andy Seminick-Les Hall Lighted Field on campus a reality.
He continues to lend his time to Florida Tech through his work on the board of trustees. Tim’s actions and service perpetuate his philosophy that it is our responsibility to include and help everyone.
Wakefield was featured in Florida Tech’s 60th Anniversary special edition book, “60 for 60: Celebrating Sixty Years of Alumni at Florida Institute of Technology.” Copies are available for purchase here.