FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner thanked Tim Wakefield for his career accomplishments and contributions, the veteran knuckleballer, dressed in a pinstripe suit and sporting his 2004 World Series ring on his right hand, emotionally announced his retirement.
Here is Wakefield's speech:
Thank you, Tom. That's a tough one to follow.
Like Tom said, this is a very emotional day for me, as well. Thank you all for coming out here today.
I want to thank the Red Sox organization for this special occasion.
Every since I was a little boy, all I ever wanted to do was play baseball. Even at an early age, after I had learned to write in cursive, I would always practice my autograph in hopes of one day I would become a big leaguer.
Those hopes became a reality and I've been lucky to been able to live out my dreams for the past 18 years.
I remember in '95, the first time I stepped out of that dugout and saw the Green Monster for the first time, I knew I was in a place I belonged. To be able to share the same field as the greats before me, as well as the ones I played with, has been truly amazing.
There have been many ups and downs along the way, but one thing is for sure, every time I stepped on that field I gave everything I had. All I ever wanted to do was win. And the bigger goal was to win a World Series for this great city.
So finally after 86 years we were able to do that and the greatest thrill for me was to share it with all the players before us, but more importantly was sharing it with generations and generations of Red Sox fans.
This has been the hardest thing I've ever had to do, so it's with a heavy heart that I stand here today ... [pauses to gain his composure] and I'm saddened to say that I have decided to retire from this wonderful game of baseball. [Fighting back tears]
For the past 17 years all I've ever wanted to do is what was best for our team and the organization. Whether it was starting, closing or whatever I was asked to do, I always had my spikes on and was ready to go.
I've been so blessed to have been able to wear this uniform and be a part of this historic franchise for as long as I have and I've enjoyed many success along the way. But when it came down to it, I had to take a hard look at what I thought was best for me, my family and the Red Sox.
There is nothing that I want more than for this team to win and it's hard sometimes to take yourself out of the decision process, but in my heart I feel that by retiring, I'm giving them a better chance at doing that.
In saying that, I also feel this is what's best for my family to succeed, as well. This is a special time in my kids' life and I've never wanted to regret not being there for them.
Thank you to the Red Sox for giving me the greatest time of my life.
John [Henry], Tom [Werner] and Larry [Lucchino], what you've done for this franchise is amazing and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it.
Pam Ganley, and your entire media relations department, thank you for all your hard work and making my life easy. Sarah Stevenson, Sheri Rosenberg and the community relations department, thank you for helping me with my Wakefield Warrior programs for the past 15 years and your tireless efforts will never be forgotten.
The entire clubhouse staff, especially Joe Cochran, thank you for being there when I needed you the most.
Jack McCormick, for making our travel as painless as possible. Billy Broadbent, your hours and hours of video to help us get better.
Dana Levangie and Mani Martinez and the rest of the bullpen catchers for being brave enough to play catch with me every day because nobody else wanted to.
Dan Duquette, thank you for bringing me to Boston and giving me a chance.
My agent, Barry Meiste. Woody Huyke, the coach I had in the Pirates minor league system that saw a knuckleball in me and turned my career completely around.
Phil and Joe Niekro, Charlie Hough and Tom Candiotti, thank you very much for welcoming me into your [knuckeball] fraternity.
Our entire training and medical staff, thank you for getting me back on the field as soon as possible and keeping our families healthy while we've been away.
To all my managers and coaches I've had along the way, thank you for showing me how to be a pro and how to act like one.
Thank you to my teammates for always having my back and pushing me to the best I could be. And know that I will always have your backs.
To my mom and dad for pushing me to excel in whatever I chose to do.
[Wife] Stacy, [children] Trevor and Brianna, thank you for your sacrifices through the years to allow me to pursue my dreams and pushing me through the hard times and never allowing me to quit. I'm really looking forward to spending more time with you guys.
Boston is our home and always will be. Stacy grew up here, both my kids were born there and essentially I grew up there, too.
I've always said that's it's more important to give than receive, therefore I'll always be involved in the community and with the charitable organizations that mean so much to us.
Finally, I have to thank the Red Sox fans. You are the greatest fans in the world. I've enjoyed every minute of every game I've played for you. I am eternally grateful for the love and respect you've shown me over the years and I will hold every one of those memories close to my heart.