Red Sox fans of a certain age have a habit – painfully earned – of remembering the bad times with as much clarity as the good times. Or maybe even more.
Even the salve of World Series victories in 2004 and 2007 hasn't changed that. Or at least not as much as it should have.
Red Sox fans just love to poke the bruise. Dent. Schiraldi. McNamara. Little. Boone.
And depending on the age of the fan, it can go back 60 or 70 years.
Denny Galehouse, anyone?
And that's what makes Tim Wakefield so remarkable.
Wakefield is associated with some of the worst moments in Red Sox history.
He voluntarily took the ball and marched out to become the New York Yankees' pinata in the horrific 19-8 Game 3 loss in the 2004 ALCS. You remember -- the last game before everything changed forever.
And about a year before, he gave up the home run to Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. That came after Grady Little had already made the worst managerial decision of his career, sending the game into a tailspin. Boone's home run was possibly the worst moment in their fandom for many Sox fans. (Yes, worse than 1986).
And yet, Wakefield never became part of that litany of pain. He was willing to take the hit after the damage was already done – either on the scoreboard or on the team's psyche and we loved him for it.
As he announces his retirement at age 45, the high points of his 19-year career with Boston will be endlessly repeated in print and on screen.
But it's the low points that Sox fans will remember the most. And with the most gratitude.
Red Sox Nation will likely never see another like him.
Thanks for the memories, Wake. All of them.