Tim Wakefield Reaches a Milestone with Class and Humility
It was a study in contrasts over the last two days. Tim Wakefield, 45-year-old knuckle ball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox finally -- after 9 tries -- reached the coveted 200 game milestone that only 107 pitchers have achieved before him in all of baseball history. His reaction was a testament to how he's played the game and lived his life in Boston -- one of humility and gratitude to the fans, to his teammates and for the privilege of living his dream as a professional baseball player.
Meanwhile, former Boston Red Sox slugger and one-time World Series MVP, Manny Ramirez, was arrested for a domestic dispute and showed, during the press scrum after his release, the same level of inappropriate humor and nonchalance tinged with arrogance that marked his many years in Boston, certainly, if not in his career overall. The video coverage shows him smiling and joking around and then grabbing and tossing the microphones of aggressive reporters who shoved them into the open window of his relative's car as he was leaving the court house.
Ridiculously loved by the fans, even when he was dogging a run to first base or rolling around in left field when he should have been cleanly fielding a ball and getting an important out, Manny took the adulation and the obscene amount of money he was paid as his right. He reportedly didn't give back to local charities, whereas Wakefield has been the heart and soul of his team's efforts with the Jimmy Fund for children dealing with cancer. Neither athletes enjoyed the media spotlight. Even with this great achievement and the high he was on last night, it was clear Wakefield was not comfortable at his press conference. One athlete was difficult for the press to deal with, and the other did the job he needed to do when it came to the media. I'll let you guess which was which.
When you look at the coverage of Wakefield's 200th win and watch his press conference, you hear gratitude and humility. He comments that "having my teammates come back out [of the clubhouse after the game and their locker room celebration of their win and his milestone] means a lot to me ... it was very special." He talks about how much it meant to him to achieve this at Fenway, as a Red Sox, in front of the fans who have stayed with him all through his career, and particularly during the frustrating tries to get to 200. And he stays focused on the ultimate prize, the postseason, telling his younger colleagues that it isn't easy to achieve and it's what they are all playing for. "Get it done. Grind through it," he says, reminding all of us that this is Wakefield's ultimate philosophy as a player and a human being who makes commitments and keeps them. As much as he appreciated reaching 200 wins, he says, "the milestone doesn't determine me as a person."
Here's hoping Manny Ramirez watches Wakefield's press conference and reads his quotes. He could learn a thing or two about how to communicate as a class act and what the very definition of teammate really looks like.