"Our hearts are broken with the loss of Tim Wakefield," the team wrote on social media. "Wake embodied true goodness; a devoted husband, father, and teammate, beloved broadcaster, and the ultimate community leader. He gave so much to the game and all of Red Sox Nation."
Wakefield was a two-time World Series champion, helping the Red Sox break the curse in 2004 and winning it all again in 2007.
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The Red Sox Hall of Famer spent 29 years in Boston's organization and was the honorary chairman of the Red Sox Foundation. His death comes less than a week after ex-teammate Curt Schilling revealed -- without permission -- on a podcast that Wakefield had brain cancer. The Red Sox later confirmed an illness but did not elaborate saying Wakefield had requested privacy.
Drafted by the Pirates as a first baseman who set home run records in college, Wakefield converted to a pitcher after mastering the knuckleball in the minor leagues. He went on to win 200 major league games, including 186 with the Red Sox — behind only Cy Young and Roger Clemens in franchise history.
He was named the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year in 1995 -- his first season with the Red Sox -- was a 2009 All-Star with Boston, and was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2016.
The knuckleballer was also an eight-time nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award that goes to a ballplayer for exemplary sportsmanship and community involvement, winning it in 2010. After retiring, he became an analyst for Red Sox broadcasts and remained active in the team’s charities.
Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president and CEO Sam Kennedy were all mourning his death Sunday, saying Wakefield's tremendous on-field success was only transcended by his remarkable character.
“Tim’s kindness and indomitable spirit were as legendary as his knuckleball,” Henry said in a statement. “He not only captivated us on the field but was the rare athlete whose legacy extended beyond the record books to the countless lives he touched with his warmth and genuine spirit. He had a remarkable ability to uplift, inspire, and connect with others in a way that showed us the true definition of greatness. He embodied the very best of what it means to be a member of the Boston Red Sox and his loss is felt deeply by all of us.”
Werner said it's one thing to be an outstanding athlete and another to be an extraordinary human being: "Tim was both.”
“He was a role model on and off the field, giving endlessly to the Red Sox Foundation and being a force for good for everyone he encountered," Werner added. "I felt fortunate to call him a close friend and along with all of us in Red Sox Nation, I know the world was made better because he was in it.”
Kennedy noted it's a rare occurrence for a two-time World Series Champion’s extraordinary personality to shine even brighter than their illustrious career.
“Tim was undeniably an exceptional pitcher, but what truly set him apart was the ease with which he connected with people," Kennedy said. "He was an extraordinary pitcher, an incredible broadcaster, and someone who exemplified every humanitarian quality in the dictionary. I will miss my friend more than anything and can only aspire to live as genuinely and honorably as he did.”
Wakefield served as the Red Sox’ first Jimmy Fund captain—along with teammate Clay Buchholz—and was an active participant in the annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, which has raised more than $60 million for cancer research.
His “Wakefield Warriors” program enabled patients from the Franciscan Hospital for Children and the Jimmy Fund to visit with him and watch batting practice before Tuesday home games at Fenway Park.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute released a statement Sunday saying Wakefield was selfless in his dedication to the adults and children being treated for cancer at the hospital, and that he always went the extra mile.
"He often visited our adult and pediatric floors, met our teen patients during their annual spring training trip, and was dedicated to helping us raise funds for cancer research and care," DFCI's senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer said. "He will be missed. Our thoughts go out to his family, his fans, and the Red Sox organization."
Wakefield was also actively involved with “Pitching in for Kids,” a non-profit organization dedicated to providing grants to improve the lives of children across New England.
Additionally, he supported Melbourne’s Space Coast Early Intervention Center, a unique non-profit therapeutic pre-school program for children with special needs. According to the Red Sox, Wakefield adopted the Center in 1992 when it was struggling financially and facing closure. He helped to raise over $10 million for the organization through his annual Tim Wakefield Celebrity Golf Classic and Memorabilia Auction.
Wakefield is survived by his wife Stacy and their children Trevor and Brianna.
The Associated Press contributed to this report