WATERVILLE — Mike Timlin stood in right field at Purnell Wrigley Field on Thursday, surrounded by youth baseball players eager to learn anything he and fellow Red Sox 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, now 53, won 75 games and saved 141 more. On Thursday, he joined a handful of former major league players and local coaches to teach a baseball clinic in Waterville.

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

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

“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. He 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 homer off Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 in 1993, 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.

“(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. He came to Boston in 2003 and spent his final six seasons with the Red Sox. He felt the most comfortable in his career in Boston, 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 as a rookie  in Toronto. He spent time as a setup man and a closer, saving 31 games for the Blue Jays in 1996 and 27 for the Orioles in 1999. The mental burden that came with taking the ball in 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 everyday 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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