Former Red Sox relief pitcher Mike Timlin back left center, shares a laugh with former Yankees assistant coach Stump Merrill during a baseball clinic Thursday at Purnell Wrigley Field in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

WATERVILLE — Mike Timlin stood in right field at Purnell Wrigley Field, surrounded by youth baseball players eager to learn anything he and fellow Major League alumni Bill Campbell and Steve Crawford could teach them about pitching.

“The best pitch in baseball is the first-pitch strike. You want to make him hit the baseball,” Timlin said. “Walks are boring.”

Timlin’s 18-season Major League career ended with the Red Sox after the 2008 season. Timlin won 75 games over his career and saved 141 more. On Thursday, he joined a handful of former big league players and area coaches to teach a baseball clinic in Waterville.

Coaching the game is nothing new for Timlin, who recently completed a nine-year run coaching high school baseball in Colorado. Timlin’s advice to young players is simple.

Former Red Sox relief pitcher Mike Timlin shows how to grip a baseball for a pitch during a clinic Thursday in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“Just have fun. It’s a game. There’s a lot of pressures going on with parents and outside influences. When you get on the diamond, just go out and have fun. That’s my biggest fundamental,” Timlin said.

Timlin arrived in Waterville on Wednesday in time to make an appearance at the Taste of Waterville festival, where he met with Red Sox fans. It was a scene Timlin has lived through numerous times since 2004, when he was a member of the Red Sox team that broke the 86-year old World Series championship drought. Fifteen years and three more world titles later (Timlin also played on the 2007 world championship Boston team), Timlin is still happy to talk with fans about the 2004 season.


“It’s great. Red Sox Nation, they’re very passionate. They’re great people. Most of them want to walk up and say ‘Thank you,’ just for ’04 and ’07,” Timlin said. “Breaking the curse was a special time. Seeing the Red Sox languish for so long, even playing against them and kind of furthering that for them, then coming in and being a part of something, a tradition that’s been around forever, breaking that was pretty special.”

Timlin began his Major League career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991, when he finished sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after winning 11 games for the Blue Jays. Timlin was a member of Toronto’s back-to-back World Series winning clubs in 1992 and 1993. He had a perfect seat for one of baseball’s historic moments, Joe Carter’s walkoff three-run home run off Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, lifting the Jays to the Series win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I was sitting next to Mark Eichhorn in the bullpen when Mitch threw that slider down and in and (Carter) swung over it. Mark leans over to me and goes, ‘If he throws that again Joe is going to go deep.’ I’m like, ‘Come on dude. Really?'” Timlin said. “Then it happened. He literally called that. Everything fell out of the rafters and it was pretty cool.”

While Carter’s Series-winning homer was certainly clutch, Timlin said the teammate he’d want at the plate with the winning run on base is David Ortiz.

Former Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Mike Timlin gives instruction during a pitching clinic Thursday at Purnell Wrigley Field in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“(Ortiz) became a little bit better of a situational hitter than Joe, but Joe was a great hitter,” Timlin said.

Timlin’s career included stints with six big league teams: Toronto, Seattle, Baltimore, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Boston. Timlin came to Boston in 2003 and spent the final six seasons of his career with the Red Sox. It was in Boston he felt the most comfortable in his career, Timlin said.

“When I finally reached Boston, I was at a point mentally and physically where I was enjoying the game. It wasn’t a job anymore. It was playing a game again. It showed in what I did on the field. I enjoyed every day. I loved coming to the yard, talking to people and just having a great time. I love to compete, but it’s just the game in the end,” Timlin said.

Most of Timlin’s career was spent as a relief pitcher. Timlin made four career starts, three coming in his rookie season in Toronto. Timlin spent time as a set-up man and a closer, saving 31 games for the Blue Jays in 1996 and 27 games with the Orioles in 1999. The mental burden that came with taking the ball in late game pressure situations was one Timlin gladly accepted.

“You don’t have to pace yourself as a reliever. You’ve got to go as hard as you can as long as you can. Throw hard every day,” Timlin said. “I wanted to be an every day guy, and I considered myself that as a reliever. I told many managers I’ll be ready day in, day out, or until they give me a day off. That’s just the way I approached the game.”

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