Former Major League Pitcher
Was MVP for Panther Baseball
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Tim Wakefield, the Melbourne native who won two Most Valuable Panther awards as a slugging first baseman for Florida Tech baseball before embarking on a distinguished, 19-year Major League pitching career, was presented the university’s highest alumni honor – the Jerome P. Keuper Distinguished Alumni Award – at the university’s Homecoming Awards Gala Oct. 15.
After graduating from Eau Gallie High School, Wakefield began what would be his Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame-worthy career with the Panthers in 1987. That year he hit a school-record 22 home runs and won the first of his two MVP awards. He won the award again in 1988, the same year Wakefield’s professional baseball career began when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He was the first baseball player from Florida Tech to be drafted.
It was in the Pirates system that Wakefield was converted from an infielder to a pitcher – one who possessed the ability to throw the most beguiling pitch in a hurler’s repertoire, the knuckleball.
In 1995 he signed with the Boston Red Sox and proceeded to play for that team the remaining 17 years of his professional career. He won two World Series with the Red Sox, including the 2004 series against the St. Louis Cardinals when he was the Game 1 starter and the team went on to win its first title in 86 years.
Wakefield was recognized with many individual accolades during his career, including being named an All Star in 2009 and being the 2010 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable efforts. He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame this spring.
His baseball career ended in 2011, but Wakefield has continued to make his birthplace and his adopted home better places for those who need it most.
In addition to raising money and awareness for Melbourne’s Space Coast Early Intervention Center, Wakefield is actively involved in several charitable organizations throughout the Boston area. His Wakefield Warriors Program was created in partnership with Boston’s Franciscan Hospital for Children to bring patients to Fenway Park to share time with him on and off the field. He has also been active with New England’s Pitching in for Kids organization, a program dedicated to improving the lives of children across the New England region, and The Touch ‘Em All Foundation founded by Garth Brooks in association with Major League Baseball.
And at his alma mater, he was a major contributor to Florida Tech’s Andy Seminick/Les Hall Field and helped add lights to the baseball field in 2011.
Wakefield joins previous Distinguished Alumni Award winners, including astronaut Sunita Williams, Ann Dunwoody, the Army’s first female four-star general, retired Ford Motor Co. executive Robert Phebus Jr., attorney Dale Dettmer and Carmax President and CEO Thomas Folliard, as Florida Tech graduates whose career accomplishments honor the university’s legacy of excellence.
For more information on the Jerome P. Keuper Distinguished Alumni Award and other alumni honors, visit http://alumni.fit.edu/outstanding-alumni. Photos of the Homecoming Awards Gala can be found at http://homecoming.fit.edu/gala.php.