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Wakefield retiring after 19 big league seasons

Tim Wakefield has retired from the game of baseball.

The 45-year-old knuckleballer made the move official during a Friday press conference at JetBlue Park, the spring training home of the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Florida.

Wakefield spent the final 17 seasons of his 19-year major league career with Boston and helped the club to a pair of World Series titles in 2004 and '07.

"It's a little surreal for me still. Once I get home I'll really have time to digest it," Wakefield said about the realization that his playing days are through. "I just want to get through this day. I haven't slept all week."

An All-Star for the first and only time in 2009, he was 200-180 with a 4.41 earned run average in 627 games -- 463 starts -- with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston. All but 14 of his victories came as a member of the Red Sox, placing him third on the club's all-time wins list. He trails only Cy Young and Roger Clemens, both of whom had 192.

The oldest player in the majors last season, Wakefield posted a 7-8 record with a 5.12 ERA in 33 games, 23 of them starts.

He earned his 200th career win on September 13 against visiting Toronto and in his next appearance -- September 18 versus Tampa Bay -- became the first Red Sox hurler to reach 3,000 innings pitched with the team.

Only Carl Yastrzemski (23), Ted Williams (19) and Dwight Evans (19) played more years with the Red Sox.

"Tim Wakefield has been the epitome of class and determination in his remarkable career," said Red Sox owner John W. Henry in a statement issued by the club. "He will be known as much for his character, dedication, and perseverance as he will be for his knuckleball, his victories, and his key contributions to two World Series Championship seasons."

Wakefield burst onto the scene in 1992 with the Pirates, befuddling the National League in 13 starts that season with an 8-1 record and a 2.15 ERA. He helped Pittsburgh to a division title and posted two wins in a pair of starts against Atlanta in the NLCS.

After struggling to a 6-11 mark with a 5.61 ERA the following season for a rebuilding Pittsburgh team, Wakefield found himself in the minors for the entire 1994 campaign before latching on with Boston in '95.

"When I got released by Pittsburgh, I really thought my career was over at that point," Wakefield added. "Considering I was 5-15 the year before in Triple-A, yeah, I think I was lucky."

He helped the Red Sox to a division crown in 1995 and also pitched in the postseason for Boston in 1998, '99, 2003, '04, '05, '07 and '08.