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Knuckler: My Life with Baseball's Most Confounding Pitch
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Knuckler: My Life with Baseball's Most Confounding Pitch

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  207 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
At forty-four years old, Tim Wakefield is the longest-serving member of one of baseball’s most popular franchises. He is close to eclipsing the winning records of two of the greatest pitchers to have played the game, yet few realize the full measure of his success. That his career can be characterized by such words as dependability and consistency defies all odds because h ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 6th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 470)
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Kim G
May 10, 2011 Kim G rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
As a die-hard Red Sox fan, this book was disappointing. It's written in the third person by Massarotti, and it reads like a rote history of the last fifteen years of the Sox sprinkled with very shallow interview notes.

I learned very little about Wake, which was a bummer. He's always been one of my favorites, he seems like a great guy and (like the book states, over and over and OVER―—awkward considering the book's "author" is Wakefield) a true team player. I didn't need details about his person
May 28, 2011 Jane rated it it was ok
I love Tim Wakefield SO MUCH. Baseball without him would be so weird.


Okay, so I still love Wake. However....Tony Maz, not so much. I would have been less of a hater had there been fewer em dashes and one-line sentences. On the latter: it's the biggest symptom of newspaper-ish writing (as opposed to book-writing), along with hyperbole and too-conversational English in spots. But the one-line sentences kill me; we're not reading this for your reactionary opinions in the Herald! You don't need t
Sean Myers
Oct 30, 2014 Sean Myers rated it liked it

“Knuckler” is not for the story readers. It is very analytical which is the reason I enjoyed it. It reminds of the way I look at sports. I always look at them with stats. I never looked deep into the personalities behind the athlete. Don’t get me wrong that is always cool to learn the background of a certain athlete, especially the ones that come from rags to riches. This is not one of those stories. You actually barely learn the background of good ole Tim Wakefield. This book is all about the s
Candy VanDyke
Sep 09, 2012 Candy VanDyke rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
I enjoyed this book a great deal. Tim always seemed to be such a down to earth person in any interview or article I read so I was interested in this book to learn more about him. Definitely worth reading.
Brad McKenna
Apr 03, 2014 Brad McKenna rated it really liked it
Boston is an odd town. While it's one of the intellectual capitals of the world (Harvard, MIT, etc) it's a town that demands its sports stars to be tremendously talented AND hugely humble. It's a sort of blue collar attitude by white color fans. Tim Wakefield might as well be the paragon of Boston Sports Stars.

The knuckleball is the antithesis of the fastball. It's unpredictable where the fastball is overpowering. The knuckleball confounds both the pitcher and the batter. It's got a mind of its
Mar 10, 2013 Dawn rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, own
Probably more like 3.5 but I couldn't give it 3. It was a little dry at time, but Wakey just seems like such a nice guy. Honest, occasionally vulnerable, determined even while disappointed.
Chris Aylott
Oct 02, 2011 Chris Aylott rated it did not like it
If this were billed as a book on pitching strategy and the knuckleball in particular, it would be all right. (It would also need more Phil Niekro, but what book doesn't?) Unfortunately, somewhere there was a fundamental disconnect between how the book was written and how the book was pitched to readers.

I don't know if it was marketing or the writer who screwed up. But this is presented as a memoir, and it's not. It's not even written in the first person. It covers Wakefield's career, and as ment
Seth Heasley
Oct 30, 2011 Seth Heasley rated it really liked it
I love baseball. In my humble and correct opinion, it's superior to all other sports. So it's probably not surprising that I also love baseball books. But in the interest of staying well-rounded, I limit my consumption of them to about one a year. Last year, it was Jason Turbow's terrific The Baseball Codes. This year, it's Tim Wakefield's autobiography, Knuckler: My Life With Baseball's Most Confounding Pitch.

Co-written with Tony Massarotti, the book is really not just the story of Tim Wakefiel
Aug 04, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
Team, community, sacrifice, humble, under-the-radar, longevity, inspiring. Just a few words that describe Tim Wakefield.

Early chapters tell of knuckleballer legends and the history of their schizophrenic pitch, followed by chapters detailing Wakefield’s career.

“Let’s make this clear: knuckleballers aren’t superstars. Tim, especially, was rarely the kind of pitcher who got front-page billing during any year, but when the season ended, I bet the Red Sox and everyone else looked up and gave thanks
David Bradley
Dec 09, 2011 David Bradley rated it it was ok
This is a book written by a sports columnist (Tony Massarotti), not a sports player. This is good, because the brief introduction written by Wakefield is poor prose at best. This is bad, because sports columnists have a way of writing that works for 700 words, but doesn't work for 250 pages. If I see one more one-sentence paragraph, or one more sentence fragment . . . . I feel as though Mas has perfected the period splice -- the inverse of the comma splice, where he creates two sentences using a ...more
Nov 05, 2013 Lance rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports, blog, baseball
2 1/2 of 5 stars (just okay)

At first I was very happy to see that there was a book written about Tim Wakefield, a player whose career defines perseverance. Having set many of the team pitching records for the Boston Red Sox, I expected his autobiography to be rich with many stories about his ups and downs, the various roles he has played in his pitching career and maybe even a few personal insights.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. There were two glaring issues I had with the book while read
Christy B
Mar 31, 2011 Christy B rated it really liked it
I didn't know what to expect when I started reading Knuckler. While I am a hardcore Red Sox fan, I have to admit, I know little about Tim Wakefield. I knew that he started his career in Pittsburgh and he was a knuckleballer. That's it.

Reading Knuckler gave me a whole new appreciation for Wakefield. For me, as a Sox fan, he was always there, for better or worse. He stuck it out and showed determination, but as I worked my way through Knuckler, I had no idea just how much.

In Knuckler we follow T
Aug 08, 2011 Doug rated it liked it
I love the knuckleball.

I don’t know how any nerd could not love the knuckleball, or, as I prefer to call it, the “chaos pitch.” It’s thrown — at the velocity of a cheetah, mind you — with almost no rotation. Its path to, and hopefully over, the plate is determined, as much as anything else, by the eddies formed by the ball’s stitches as it shoves its way through the air.

And to me, the knuckleball is emblematic of baseball’s appeal. As much as fans love to describe the game with statistics, the g
Aug 04, 2011 Kathy rated it liked it
I love Tim Wakefield and was happy to spend some time reading this book regardless of how familiar I already was with most of the material. I was not familiar with Wakefield's early career so I was glad to have that gap in my knowledge filled.The Neikros involvement in Wakefield's education and the "Brotherhood of Knuckleballers" was also interesting to read about.

I do wish Tony. Mazz hadn't spent the first 30 pages talking about the uncertain trajectory of the knuckleball. I got it. Many times
Jun 15, 2011 Christi rated it did not like it
I like Tim Wakefield and his loyalty to his team, his versatility as a pitcher and his longevity as a player.

Unfortunately, this book did nothing to illuminate Wakefield's talent, personality or even his thoughts!. That isn't Wakefield's fault. It is that of his co-author, Tony Massarotti.

This book is billed as written by Tim Wakefield *with* Tony Massarotti. However, it is written in the 3rd person and clearly is all Massarotti's point of view. There are very few quotes or first person accoun
Mar 19, 2012 Thomas rated it liked it
A decent retelling of a great man's career in baseball. Though Tim Wakefield is listed as the author he seems more of a consultant adding a few little details for flavor here and there. Tony Massarotti is the true author here and he never misses a chance to talk about how crazy and wild the knuckleball is. So much so that it starts to annoy you and get's compared to every tumultuous period of Tim's career. I am a serious Red Sox fan who happens to live near Salem VA and saw Tim pitch for the Sal ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Kristen rated it really liked it
Kind of your standard baseball bio, but I did enjoy the first section that was focused specifically on the knuckleball. That section was part history and part Zen and the art of the knuckelball. I hated to see the Pirates release Wakefield in the mid 90s because he seemed like such a nice guy and he was so successful when he first came to the majors in 92. I always thought he would get it back together. I rooted for him when he pitched for the Sox.
Jul 21, 2011 Du rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
I wanted to love this book. Really I did. I was looking forward to it, as a Sox fan and as a Wakefield fan. It fails on two levels. First it claims to be written by Wake, with Massaratti as a contributor, but reads like a third person biography with some interjections by Wake. Boring. Second, it recounts things that the basic Sox fan would know. Who else is going to read this book other than a Sox fan or a Wake fan?

Finally, this book was clearly written over the winter, when Wake was considerin
Jan 12, 2016 Johnvano rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: red sox fans
Shelves: biography
An interesting survey of Tim Wakefield's career and the oddity of the under appreciated knuckleball. The writer (Wakefield is listed as author but it is made very clear that he did not right this third person account) repeatedly makes the case for Wakefield's value based on the quantity of the outs he delivered over the span of very long seasons. He also shows the sacrifice, and team-first mentality of Wake, long a fan favorite, though sometimes infuriatingly so.

I enjoyed the nice appreciation
Apr 18, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it
The focus really isn't Wakefield and his knuckler, but Wakefield's role on the Red Sox an in their history. Which is all well and good, but then the book starts to feel like a book about the Red Sox, not Wakefield vs. X or Y. We never hear about his approach vs certain batters, why he would choose not to throw his knuckleball....I guess he is still playing so no time to give away his strategies, but can't we talk about this in the context of his early career at least? 1990s? We're reminded of hi ...more
Jeff Raymond
Closer to a 3.5.

First, this book is barely by Tim Wakefield - it's more of a journalistic history of the most successful knuckleball pitcher of the current generation. It's well done enough, having a great history of knuckleballers and some insider information about how teams and managers have handled (or mishandled) knuckleballers. The focus, though, is on Wakefield's travels through the minors and as a Red Sox pitcher, so the appeal is limited to hardcore baseball fans and Boston fans.

Still, a
Jun 25, 2012 Leslie rated it liked it
R.A. Dickey was recently crowned the new king of the knuckleball. With the spate of attention to the pitch, baseball fans should pick up Wakefield's memoir of life as a knuckleball pitcher. Wakefield has written a lively autobiography that tracks the ups and downs of his life in a trajectory that follows the twists and turns of his signature pitch, the knuckleball. Though his life as a major leaguer appeared effortless once he found success as a two-time World Series champ with the Red Sox - wit ...more
Brian E. Spivey
Jul 26, 2015 Brian E. Spivey rated it it was amazing
Tim Wakefield was one of my favorite players in Major League Baseball. I thoroughly enjoyed this autobiography that allowed me to know the man better.
Jerry Smith
May 11, 2011 Jerry Smith rated it liked it
Shelves: sport, 2011-read
Not bad - fairly shallow bio of one of my favorite baseball players. He is about the same age as me and who wouldn't root for a knuckleballer? Maybe one of the catchers who has to work behind the plate when he's pitching.....

I'd like to have heard more about the pitch. More about Wakefield's relationship with his personal catcher Doug Mirabelli. More about the nuances of the knuckleballer's trade. There was enough here to be interesting but the depth was lacking.

Maybe this is because I'm not a R
Sep 11, 2011 Tim rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A look at the baseball career of Tim Wakefield. It includes some comments on his personal life, but this is largely set aside. The book would have benefited from allowing us closer to him, particularly in showing us more of his personality. It also briefly covers the knuckleball, it's mechanics history in baseball and other pitchers who have used the pitch successfully. The book relies too heavily on cliche, and the use of italicized text to represent a direct quote from someone to Mr. Wakefield ...more
John Lee
Aug 22, 2014 John Lee rated it did not like it
I didn't know what to expect from this book. At the very least, it would be about baseball, which meant I would get through it no matter what, and at best, maybe I could be entertained and learn a lot about Wakefield, knuckleballs, or the Red Sox. It turned out that while the former was true, the latter definitely was not. This book essentially tells the story of Wakefield's career in what has to be the plainest way possible. Sure, there are quotes from him interjected throughout the book, but i ...more
Richard Downey
Jan 17, 2013 Richard Downey rated it liked it
The thing I really likes about Knuckler was the overall feel of the ups and downs in a pro ball players career, from season to season or from game to game. wakefield tells his story with honesty and candor. I sometimes felt that his co-author, a newspaper writer, had too strong a hand in the narrative as it sometimes felt like a "story" and not a life. That is a relatively minor quibble. By its very nature, the knuckleball is an unpredictable entity and no one truely masters the pitch. You just ...more
Chris Conrey
May 08, 2011 Chris Conrey rated it liked it
A quick memoir of Tim Wakefield's baseball career as the current generation's Knuckleball pitcher. As one of my favorite players of all time (and one of only two who I own the jersey of) I had to read this one once I found it at Barnes and Noble. I read it in 2 days and sucked it in. There wasn't a ton of new information to me since I was already a devotee of his, and the only thing that kept me from the 4th star was that there were less insights into the man himself than I would have expected. ...more
Sep 02, 2015 Beth rated it it was ok
Disappointing as I thought it was going to be more about Tim Wakefield not the knuckleball.
Jul 27, 2011 Louise added it
Each baseball season I feed my passion or obsession, call it what you will, by reading at least one book about baseball. Tim Wakefield is one of the players I admire greatly. He is a man of character and has done much for those around him. He is the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award for his "good works". So now I will find out more about him. I am really looking forward to it!
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