Red Sox honor 2004 championship team, Tim Wakefield's family ahead of home opener

BOSTON (AP) — When the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals to capture the World Series title in 2004 to end their 86-year title drought, Johnny Damon was one of the first to grab the trophy. He immediately found Tim Wakefield – who’d bounced back after giving up a season-ending home run to the Yankees in the 2003 playoffs.

As Boston celebrated the 20th anniversary of that title team, Damon again put the trophy in the hands of a Wakefield, only this time the knuckleballer's daughter.

“I just thought it was fitting for her to walk off the field with the World Series trophy,” Damon said following Tuesday’s ceremony ahead of the home opener against Baltimore. “Such a great day. Those kids are going through a lot and they know that they have a lot of family, the team that we had in 2004. They can always count on us. And especially if Brianna ever gets a boyfriend, she’s got to check with all of her uncles.”

Wakefield died of brain cancer in October at age 57. His wife, Stacy, died less than five months later after her own cancer battle. Boston is wearing heart-shaped No. 49 patches in honor of the knuckleball pitcher this season.

A tribute video was played for both, known for their philanthropic work in the Boston area, along with highlights of the 2004 run.

It was part of a emotional day at Fenway Park. Ceremonies included former manager Terry Francona, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Damon among the more than 40 members present from the 2004 team.

The most noticeable absence was Wakefield.

Tim and Stacy’s children, Brianna and Trevor, led the members of the ’04 team onto the field for the ceremony while carrying the World Series trophy. Brianna then threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former catcher and current Red Sox assistant coach Jason Varitek, flanked by her father’s former teammates.

The team previously gathered for the 10th anniversary of the championship and Damon, sporting the long hair he was known for during his time in Boston said, “for the most part our team is aging pretty well.”

“We still like each other. We’re just missing a few guys that we really wish were here,” Damon said.

Damon said the emotion that filled Fenway Tuesday underscored how much Wakefield and the 2004 team mean to the city.

“We’re family out there,” he said. ”(Tim’s) kids are going to count on us moving forward and we are all going to be there for them.”