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Tim Wakefield on D&H: Winning Clemente Award ‘the ultimate high’

10.29.10 at 2:40 pm ET
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Fresh off of winning the Roberto Clemente award for his extraordinary contributions both on the field and in the community, Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield was still on cloud nine when he visited the Dale & Holley show on Friday.

When asked how he was doing, Wakefield replied, “Awesome. It was the ultimate high, I guess. What an experience. What an honor. It was truly incredible, not only to win the award but to be able to stand on the field and accept it in front of the biggest crowd, on Fox television, and to accept the award humbly.”

Following is a transcript of the rest of the interview, where Wakefield discusses the role of service in his  life, his outlook for next season, where he thinks the team may have been without any injuries, and more. To listen to the interview, click here.

You started with the Pirates and understand the significance of the Clemente Award.

I do. Coming up through the Pirates organization, you knew what his legacy stood for. It wasn’t anything that was really harped upon, but you understood it. You understood the ultimate sacrifice that he made when he lost his life going to help out the earthquake victims in Nicaragua. You knew what it was about. I felt like I got involved early in Pittsburgh with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and I felt like I needed to carry that torch when I got into Boston. I feel like I’€™ve done that.

When did you recognize the responsibility of pro athletes to make an impact in the community? Was it in Pittsburgh or before that?

It was long before that. I think that was the way my parents raised me is to put other people first and treat other people with respect and try to help out as much as possible. I’€™ve always believed that there are other people out there that are less fortunate than you are, and they need our help.

I got involved with charity work when I was in the minor leagues with my charities back in *Melbourne*, and it’€™s just been going strong ever since. I’€™m very, very proud of this award and what it stands for and what it means. I feel very fortunate not only to be one of the 30 nominees, but to actually win the award is something very special. This is the award that deals with character. It has nothing to do with statistics in baseball or anything to do on the field. It’s an award based on character and I think that means the  most to me.

It was a conversation with your then clubhouse manager Jimy Williams that really sealed it, wasn’t it?

Yeah, you know what, I had already known it, but when he kind of reiterated the fact, Jimmy Williams  said to me, he said, ‘Wake, one day, you’re going to get out of this game, and the only thing you’€™ll take with you is your reputation.’€™

That made a lot of sense to me. To not only try your best on the field but I think the biggest thing you can take away is did you try to make a difference in somebody else’s life? Did you help out? And so many other things. We have a team full of guys that give back to the community, not only in Boston but also in the cities they grew up in or the cities they live. I just feel very fortunate not only to be nominated by the Boston Red Sox but to represent the Red Sox in this whole issue.

There’€™s 24 other guys on that club who are well-deserved to be a nominee and win the award as well.

I know you’ve been playing a long time, what is the offseason conversation like in the Wakefield household about whether to play one more year?

There’€™s no discussions. Once the season is over, there’€™s no baseball discussions.

Are you going to come back next year?

Yeah, oh yeah. I made that clear before I left. I wasn’€™t hurt this year I felt really good. I was able to throw a lot of innings this year. I look forward to coming back and finishing up possibly my last season coming up.

Watching the World Series last night, did you ever think if we’d been able to keep half a team healthy this year, we could be sitting here right now?

Yeah, I did think about it a little bit. But the thing that was really crossing my mind was that was the first game that I’€™d ever gone to that I wasn’t in uniform. It was just a weird feeling not being there playing.

The thought that you just brought up did cross my mind. Saying, ‘Woah, if we could have been healthy we could have been out here playing against the Giants in the World Series.’ It’€™s just something that you’€™ve got to take with a  grain of salt. Injuries happen sometimes. I remember I think in ‘€™06 we got hurt really bad too and never made it to the postseason.

When was the last time you went to an MLB game as a fan before last night?

I must have been nine or 10.

Oh so it was a little while ago?

Yeah, a little bit.

What was it like for you?

I was up in one of the suites, way up down the left-field line. It was just a weird feeling to watch a game from that perspective. I watched the first couple innings and said, ‘I’ve got to go watch this on TV because I can’t stand looking at it from here.

I think your wife said you guys were on vacation when got the call from Major League Baseball?

Yeah we did. I actually got the call from Larry Lucchino of the Red Sox to let me know. Shortly after that I received a letter from Bud Selig congratulating me, and the official news came through Bud.

Everyone knows about your involvement in community service, but I think it was important that Stacy was with you because I get the sense that this is a family affair in your household?

It is, it is. I didn’€™t get married until late in life, and when I did, Stacy jumped in feet first and was rearing to go to contribute as much as possible of her time and every endeavor that we get into charitably, it’€™s just been a blessing for me to have her by my side and joining in the forces of donating ourselves, our money or our time or whatever it might be to different charities in Boston and Florida.

What did you guys think of that ballpark last night?

It’s beautiful. We played out here this year in inter-league play. This year was the second year we actually came out here to play. I think we came out and played in ’04 maybe? I don’t remember. But it’€™s a beautiful ballpark. The weather is actually better here in the fall than it is in the summer time.

It’s warmer now, isn’t it?

It’s warmer now, yes, exactly. It’€™s colder in the summer time but it’€™s warmer in the fall.

I think back to the Jimmy Fund radio telethon this summer. You and Clay [Buckholz] walked into that studio and surprised that family and the young man and his sisters. The feeling that that must give you, to know that kind of happiness comes from you and Clay just walking into a room saying hi to some kids.

It is. It pulls at your heartstrings quite a bit. Just being able to walk into a room like we did during the telethon or to walk into the Jimmy Fund and walk into one of the kids rooms and just to see their face light up and smile. Mike Andrews used to say that just being able to put a smile on a kid’s face helps tin the recovery process. It helps with their mental state and  really helps them heal faster and I truly believe that. It’€™s amazing to watch how they react when they see you.

You have one former teammate who has won the award, Curt Schilling won the award.

Absolutely.

But you’€™re the first ever Red Sox to win it as a member of the Red Sox.  I can’t congratulate you enough. It’€™s overdue, you could have won it any of the eight years you were nominated.

Everybody back home was really thrilled to see it.

I appreciate it. I appreciate everybody’€™s support. Everything that not only myself but the rest of teammates try to do in the city of Boston as far as charitable work is concerned. I appreciate their support and applaud them for the things they do also.

Read More: community service, Red Sox, roberto clemente, Tim Wakefield
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