Red Sox™ Ace Tim Wakefield Gives Tips on Mastering the Knuckleball
Baseball fans around the world got a much-needed taste of the sport as Boston Red Sox™ legend Tim Wakefield shared the secrets of his most effective pitch.
The renowned right-hander took over Mastercard’s Twitter channel, broadcasting live from his Florida home with the assistance of his daughter, Brianna.
After some warmups, Wakefield gave the background on how he learned to throw a knuckleball, one of the most unusual—and confusing—pitches in Baseball.
“I learned the knuckleball from my dad when I was 12 or 13 years old,” Wakefield explained. “He’d throw me knuckleballs and I couldn’t catch them, which made me interested in what it was all about.”
Yet it wasn’t until later that the knuckleball became his specialty, having played first base at Florida Tech and signing as a hitter in the Minor Leagues™. He credits a keen-eyed coach for discovering his unique talent.
“I was throwing a knuckleball in Spring Training one year and one of the coaches walked by and said ‘I didn’t know you could do that. Why don’t you go to the bullpen mounds and throw for the pitching coach,’” Wakefield said. “I was going to get released later that summer, but he spoke up on my behalf and said, ‘Before you release this kid, let’s turn him into a knuckleball pitcher and see what happens.’”
The rest is history, as Wakefield eventually signed with Pittsburgh before beginning his storied career with the Red Sox™, highlighted by two World Series® titles as a player and another two as a consultant.
As for his advice to aspiring knuckleballers, he began by demonstrating his “two fingers inside the horseshoe” grip.
“When I throw it, it wants to spin backwards out of my hand, so I want to control the top half of the ball and push out with my two fingers so it comes out without any spin,” he explained. “That creates an air bubble right behind it, and the airflow over the seams of the ball creates this disaster behind it and makes it move all over the place.”
For a pitcher, the results can either be amazing, or devastating.
“When you’re throwing it well, it’s a lot of fun,” he said with a laugh. “But when you’re throwing it bad at 65 miles an hour, it’s usually a homer and I’m asking for another ball from the umpire.”
Wakefield also took the time to answer questions from viewers, such as his favorite moment with the Red Sox™.
“It was definitely winning the 2004 World Series® and being able to share it with generations of Red Sox™ fans and generations of [legendary] players,” he said. “I even heard stories about people going to the gravesites of their grandfathers and grandmothers who were fans for years to share the news, and that gave me the most joy.”
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