For 15 years Tim Wakefield has been a major part of the success of the Red Sox. For all of those years and more, Wakefield has continued his off field work with charities.
This past week Wakefield and his wife Stacy received the Bart Giamatti Award at the annual BAT (Baseball Assistance Team) dinner in New York. (I am a member of the BAT’s board of directors).
BAT is there to assist members of the baseball family in need, from former major and minor league players to front office personnel. Each year the Giamatti Award goes to an individual associated with baseball who best exemplifies the compassion demonstrated by the late commissioner.
Wakefield and his wife have given their time and money to numerous charities that benefit children.
Their Wakefield Warriors program brings children from the Franciscan Hospital for Children and the Jimmy Fund to Fenway to meet Wakefield, watch batting practice and see a game each Tuesday of the season.
The Franciscan hospital named their rebuilt ball field the Tim Wake Field.
At their home in Melbourne, Fla., Wakefield sponsors an annual celebrity golf tournament that benefits the Space Coast Early Intervention Center. That program pairs special needs children with non-special needs kids in a pre school program.
That program was running out of funds when Wakefield adopted it as a charity in 1992. Wakefield made a commitment to the Center to be there for them if he ever made it big in the majors.
The Center now has a new facility that opened in 2008 and Wakefield is still there.
The depth of Wakefield’s charity efforts is reflected in his Red Sox teammates having nominated him for the Roberto Clemente Award seven times. That award recognizes off-field charity work of MLB players.
At Tuesday’s dinner, Wakefield said that in the end, “It is not about how many games you win, not even about how many rings you have. Life is about what you have given back.”
Wakefield remembers when a friend of his needed help and Wakefield called BAT for assistance.
“I’ve seen the personal side of it (BAT),” Wakefield said, “and know what they’re about. And I am very proud to be a part of it.”
Wakefield finished his comments with a reference to the movie The Bucket List. He said that one scene jumped out at him and the words of that scene are etched in his mind.
Jack Nicholson’s and Morgan Freeman’s characters were discussing what it would be like when they reached heaven. Freeman spoke of an Egyptian belief.
He said when one reaches the pearly gates, the Egyptians believe you will be asked two questions: “Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?
That Wakefield would react to such a line speaks volumes.
Wakefield has obviously found joy in his life in both his family and his chance to play baseball.
More importantly, he has a positive answer to the second question as well.