CROMWELL, Conn. — The Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am teed off at TPC River Highlands on Wednesday without a familiar face, and it was not lost on anyone who knew Tim Wakefield.

Wakefield, the legendary Red Sox pitcher and former NESN broadcaster, was a frequent attendee of the event and helped Travelers in its charitable efforts throughout the last decade.

“Tim was a phenomenal friend of this tournament,” Andy Bessette, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Travelers, told outside the clubhouse.

“When I first asked him if he would come and play in the Pro-Am, the answer was, ‘Absolutely, yes,'” Bessette said. “Whenever you asked him to do anything, he did it.”

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Given his impact, Travelers wanted to honor Wakefield, who died at the age of 57 on Oct. 1, 2023.

There were two white golf flags with the No. 49 in traditional Red Sox font inside a navy blue heart. It was the same as the patches the Boston Red Sox have worn this season. Travelers also gave out ball markers with No. 49 on it.

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Bessette admitted he got choked up when he saw it come together.

“You remember Tim as the human being, and what he did,” Bessette said. “A great friend.”

Pro Football Hall of Famer Doug Flutie was spotted wearing a Wakefield jersey and hat, as well.

Wakefield was well-known for his charitable and philanthropic contributions, including the Jimmy Fund. Bessette recalled back to when he asked Wakefield if he would like to play in a “Golf Fights Cancer” event held at New Seabury on Cape Cod. Wakefield couldn’t have agreed faster.

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“Everybody went crazy to have Tim Wakefield, the famous knuckleballer,” Bessette said. “And me, being a Boston fan from when I was a little, little kid, it was like, ‘I can’t believe it.’ I pinched myself that Tim Wakefield was helping us.”

Since the Travelers took over as the PGA Tour’s lone New England stop in 2007, it has raised $28 million to over 900 charities, Bessette said.

“Tim was a huge part of that, a huge part,” said Bessette, who golfed with Wakefield some two months before he died. “Great guy, great human being and we will be forever grateful to he and his family.”

Wakefield played 17 seasons with the Red Sox before he joined NESN as a broadcaster in 2012. He is a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

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Featured image via Tom R. Smedes/Special to RGJ via Imagn Content Services / USA Today Sports Images