BOSTON -- Current players on a World Series roster are at the forefront of the enormous amount of attention placed on baseball this time of year, but it can also be fun to track the former players who come out to be part of the festivities.
Whether it's Jim Edmonds taking in a game with Tony La Russa from a Cardinals suite during the National League Championship Series and popping into the clubhouse for the pennant-clinching celebration, or Kevin Millar catching up with old Red Sox friends from his perch on MLB Network's set, many players who defined the franchise's best memories are a welcome sight in October.
Take Tim Wakefield, for instance. The retired knuckleballer pitched all but two years of his 19-year career for the Red Sox and played a major role in both World Series championship seasons in 2004 and '07. He's been out of the game as an active player since 2011, but he's no stranger to the organization -- especially this time of year.
Wakefield does part-time work for broadcast network NESN and contributes his time to the Red Sox's charitable efforts, so it's not like he's an uncommon presence at Fenway. Still, seeing him among the masses behind the cages during batting practice before World Series games just feels right. Maybe that's why Wakefield looks so at home here -- even if he's not in uniform.
On Thursday, Wakefield participated in the World Series Trophy Tour, presented by T-Mobile. He appeared at a Boston-area T-Mobile store with the World Series trophy, which has made its way around several cities whose teams were in the postseason. Obviously, the trophy has yet to be awarded this year. This event is unique, in that it gives fans a chance to see the trophy up close, pose for pictures and meet some of their favorite stars from past championship teams -- before it's actually awarded to one team.
"It's an exciting parade to be a part of," Wakefield said. "I'm more than happy to be here in support of Major League Baseball and T-Mobile, to meet and greet some people, shake hands and sign some autographs."
The trophy tour moves to St. Louis on Friday and continues Saturday, with two Cards legends leading the way.
David Eckstein and Edmonds, who led the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series championship, will be on hand at the events on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to sign autographs and take photos with fans and the trophy. Fans in attendance will also have the chance to take advantage of special one-time offers on T-Mobile products, plus enter to win tickets to Game 4 of the World Series.
Eckstein will be at the T-Mobile store at 9122 Overland Plaza in Overland, Mo., on Friday from noon to 2 p.m. CT. On Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. CT, Edmonds will be at the T-Mobile store at 1042-B Loughborough Avenue in St. Louis.
The tour marks the first time Major League Baseball has taken the trophy on tour with fan events throughout the entire postseason.
Leading up to the World Series, the tour included appearances with four-time World Series champion Jack Morris, 1986 New York Mets World Series champion and TBS analyst Ron Darling, 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers World Series champion Steve Garvey, plus celebrity fans including actor James Caan from ABC's "Back in the Game" and Sofia Vergara and Ed O'Neill from ABC's "Modern Family."