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Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield answers a question by audience member Kieran Sheehan, while others listen intently. Wakefield spent Sunday morning at the SportsZone in Derry, where he spoke and signed autographs.

DERRY, N.H. | Derry residents enjoyed a rare treat this past Sunday, as a fan favorite on Boston's most beloved team paid a visit.

Boston Red Sox veteran starting pitcher Tim Wakefield made an appearance at the SportsZone indoor athletic facility in Derry to deliver a speech about his 156-win career to young kids, teenagers and even adults. Admission was free and the 40-year-old knuckleballer also opened up a question-and-answer forum with the audience.

Wakefield fielded questions ranging from how he feels about Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record, to what makes Jonathan Papelbon's fastball so explosive.

After the question-and-answer segment, the charitable Wakefield got a vigorous hand and wrist workout by signing autographs.

"I think it's great to work with the community," said Wakefield, who is currently 5-6 with a 4.24 ERA for the American East-leading Red Sox. "This is the same community that has supported me during my career and it's nice to be able to give something back to them."

Wakefield, who is in his 15th Major League season and his 13th in Boston, pointed to his childhood as the motivation for wanting his appearance to be more than just your typical motivational speech.

"When I was a kid growing up it was cool to hear somebody talk, but I always wanted to ask questions," said Wakefield. "That's why I opened it up to questions. Regardless of what the question is, it's still cool."

Wakefield's appearance in Derry was sponsored by the Mortgage Specialists, Inc., a company that has worked with Wakefield before in radio advertisements.

"We mentioned to Tim that we do things for kids and hold charity events and we knew that Tim does a lot of that too," said Mike Gill, the owner of Mortgage Specialists, Inc. "So rather than having people pay to go see an athlete, we thought it would be a nice thing to have Tim come down to the SportsZone."

The whole event was certainly a pleasant surprise to SportsZone Owner and President Dennis Reed, who was more than happy to cooperate.

"Mortgage Specialists had contacted us about our facility and had heard good things about it," said Reed. "So they said they would like to get together.

"It really fits well to have kids come down and meet somebody with the reputation, character and professionalism that Wakefield has. It's clear that Tim is just a regular guy that really likes to give back to the community."

The SportsZone and Mortgage Specialists hope to team up for more events like this one in the future.



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