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Tim Wakefield, pitching greats turn out for 'Knuckleball!' premiere in Boston

Posted by Steve Silva, Staff  September 19, 2012 08:51 AM

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Tim Wakefield was back pitching in Boston yesterday, but instead of being on the mound, the 17-year Red Sox veteran was behind the mike talking about the new movie "Knuckleball!".

The documentary style film (read the Globe review), which follows the ups-and-downs of Wakefield and Mets knuckleballer R. A. Dickey throughout the 2011 season, had its VIP premiere last night at the Regal Fenway theater in Boston. Along with Wakefield, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro, former Texas Ranger Charlie Hough, and Belmont native and White Sox great Wilbur Wood attended the event.

Wakefield was asked how a foursome including himself, Niekro, Hough, and Wood would have fared as a rotation while in their prime. The 200-game winner replied: Wed win more than we lose.

Venerable sportscaster Bob Lobel and Boston Latino TV film critic Tim Estiloz hosted a Q&A session with the audience after the screening.

"The guys that are standing behind me now with Charlie Hough, Phil Niekro, and Wilbur Wood have been mentors of mine when I first started throwing [the knuckleball]," Wakefield said. "You'll see in the film it's a very close-knit fraternity. There's only a handful of guys that ever did it in the big leagues and it's a way that we share our thoughts and ideas with each other."

Wakefield spoke about the challenges of being filmed during the season while trying to win games, and specifically while going for his 200th win, which took eight tries.

"It can be a little invading, especially being an athlete and being so ritual, and superstitious, and being in such a routine like you don't want that interrupted but [directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg] did a fantastic job understanding that side of the game and learning that as the film was being done to make it a little easier."

Wakefield also spoke about the struggles that all the knuckleballers went through not only to make it to the big leagues, but to stay in the game when they had lost the magic touch.

"It was a struggle from Day 1 when we all started learning the knuckleball," Wakefield said. "Dealing with adversity with the pitch, dealing with nobody wanting you feeling like you're on a desert or deserted island by yourself, and I think one of the life lessons that I learned a long time ago from Phil [Niekro] was learn to accept your losses without being defeated. I think we call all use that adage in our life, because we all go through hard times in life and you can learn to accept those hard times and keep moving forward, never look behind you."

"Knuckleball!" premieres locally starting Friday, Sept. 21 at the Coolidge Corner theater in Brookline.

Read the Globe's Ty Burr's review of the documentary here.

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