PITTSBURGH - Tim Wakefield retired the other day, ending a career that started a long time ago with the Pirates.
Although Wakefield pitched most of his career for the Boston Red Sox, he was one of the great stories in recent Pirates history for a couple of reasons.
First, his career almost didn't happen.
Wakefield was a first baseman who was overmatched in his first stab at professional baseball. The Pirates were ready to release him.
But Woody Huyke, the longtime manager of the Rookie League team in Bradenton, remembered that he'd seen Wakefield fooling around with a knuckleball.
The erratic pitch seemed to dart and flutter pretty well, so Huyke suggested the Pirates should give him a chance as a pitcher.
That paid off in 1992 when Wakefield was summoned from the minor leagues and went 8-1 to help the Pirates win their third consecutive National League East title.
Then he won two games in the playoffs against Atlanta.
As quickly as it happened for Wakefield, it fell apart.
He lost the touch of the knuckleball, got pounded, and was ultimately released in 1995.
The Red Sox signed him, and he gave them 17 seasons, topping 200 innings five times. He got a trip to the World Series, too.
He finished with 200 wins and 180 losses. He's behind only Cy Young and Roger Clemens in victories for the Red Sox.
Wakefield's career is a reminder that giving guys a second chance sometimes pays off.
He made just under $56 million in his career, not bad for a guy who was within a whisper of being released from the low minors.
Milo Hamilton, 84, announced this will be his last season in the Houston Astros radio booth.
Hamilton became the Pirates' lead announcer in 1976 after Bob Prince was fired. His dry-as-dust, numbers-heavy style went over as well as Baltimore Ravens jerseys do at Heinz Field.
He left after 1979 for Chicago, when he'd been promised he was heir apparent to Jack Brickhouse.
However, the franchise was then sold, the Cubs hired Harry Caray and Hamilton fled to Houston, where he's wrapping up 28 seasons.
He's been at it since the 1950s, and this is the inscription the Hall of Fame should have put on his plaque: "Milo put more people to sleep than Brahms "Lullaby."
Mehno can be reached at: email@example.com