Tim Wakefield is noted as a family man. His caring personality (few Red Sox players have ever been more noted for their philanthropic work) helps in that regard. But because of the crazy schedule of a ballplayer, it also involves plenty of work.
"That's the hard part," Wakefield said of his efforts to keep in touch with his two children, 7-year-old son Trevor and 5-year-old daughter Brianna. "Just trying to get up early enough and talk to them, especially when they’re still in school, before they go to school, or catch them when they’re out of school, which is right about the time when I’m at the ballpark. It's tough, it's tough."
Such is the major league life, which sees players in and out of their homes, up at all hours of the night and sleeping through the mornings. Quality time with family can be hard to find. Fortunately, in the time since Wakefield first broke into the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992, some developments have aided in the process.
"With today's technology, it's not that hard to keep in touch with people," the 44-year-old knuckleballer said with a smile.
Wakefield makes some sort of contact with the family every single day. While a traditional phone call still takes place from time to time, he is also able to use Skype on occasion, and utilizes FaceTime on his iPhone. At times, he's a bit weary, waking up early after a long night at the park to catch the kids and his wife before their day gets going back home.
But just those few moments can provide a reality check, and recharge the batteries.
"It's nice to know that you're missed sometimes when you're on the road," said Wakefield, who needs just four wins to reach 200 for his career.
Baseball is not the only walk of life involving extended time away from home. For some, it's a full-time gig. And for those with a family at home, it is always important to have those reminders of what's truly important in life.
Of course, the Red Sox organization is noted for its family-friendly atmosphere. Players' children are a very common sight in the clubhouse and on the field before games. Activities like the Picnic in the Park help extend that atmosphere to the community.
Because of this, life on the road is that much easier to take. Wakefield knows that he will return to a loving home, and to a job site that is always accommodating to his family.
"The organization has done such a great job of allowing the family to be part of our lives," he said. "Kids get to see what we do for a living, appreciate it and understand it … My kids are at the age now where it's tough when you're away. When they were little, it was the normal routine. They didn't get it. They knew I was Daddy, but they didn't know why I was leaving for a week at a time and coming home for a week, and when I was home leaving at 1:30, 2 p.m. to go to work. They just accepted it, part of their growing up."
Because of Wakefield's commitment to maintaining contact, that growing up, and the time apart, has been that much easier.