After seven years and five championships with Baltimore’s indoor soccer franchise, former team captain PJ Wakefield has retired from the professional game. Wakefield, an All-League Second-Team selection in 2008 and 2009 and the 2003 Rookie of the Year, has joined the Baltimore County Police Department.
“I would like to thank Ed Hale and the entire Baltimore Blast organization for giving me the opportunity to play professional soccer for the last seven years,” Wakefield said. “The five championships we won is an accomplishment I'll never forget. I'd like to thank all the players and coaches I have played with over the years that became teammates and friends. To all the fans, thank you for all your support and loyalty in becoming the best fans in the league. To my family, thank you for all your support and for continuing to push me to succeed every day. I will miss playing the game and being around the arena, and will treasure the memories every time I see the championship banners hanging from the rafters. I would like to wish the organization and players all the best for another championship season."
Entering the 2009-10 season, Wakefield ranks 12th on Baltimore’s all-time games played list with 205 career games; he is also tied to rank eighth with 198 blocks and tied for 13th with 247 points. Last season Wakefield scored the 100th goal of his career and played in the 200th game of his career.
“PJ has done a tremendous job with the Blast, winning five championships in the last seven years and helping us continue the Blast’s winning tradition,” Blast head coach Danny Kelly said. “He is not a player you can easily replace and it will be a challenge to step into his role on the team.”
"PJ was an outstanding player for the Baltimore Blast and a major reason for our five championships in seven years," said Blast General Manager Kevin Healey. "We certainly will miss him on the team. As a local guy, I couldn't be more proud of a local player like PJ coming in and making such a big impact on the Baltimore Blast franchise."
What his former teammates and coaches have to say about PJ:
"On and off the field PJ and I have been very close and to accomplish what we have together for so many years will never be forgotten," said long-time teammate Billy Nelson. "PJ's work ethic and friendship have been special. He was my roommate for seven years and he was a big part of this team - a team leader and one of the reasons we have been so successful at every level we have played together. So many of the memories we have shared will never be forgotten.
"PJ was a good player and has been a good friend of mine for a long time," said another long-time teammate, Giuliano Celenza. "He is already missed on the field - it just won't be the same without him."
"PJ's determination, passion and desire for the game will be greatly missed," said Blast assistant coach David Bascome. "Being a leader for our team through the championships will serve as a great tool for his career outside the game."
"What I always respected about PJ was the way he conducted himself on the field and off," said former teammate and Blast assistant coach Jason Dieter. "He treated the game, his coaches, his teammates and the fans with the utmost respect in all his years playing professional soccer. He is a quiet guy, who had the honest ability to lead his team by example and he did so by always working his absolute hardest each night he took the field. A player at that level, like PJ, doesn't get selected team captain for so many years by accident, he was a true leader."
"I was extremely impressed by his versatility and his ability to play forward, midfield and defender, at an All-Star level," said former teammate Lance Johnson. "Few players have this talent."
What the Blast fans have to say about PJ:
PJ is an amazing representative of Baltimore soccer! He gave the BLAST seven great seasons, putting up 247 point in 205 games!
PJ represented the Blast well. Very professional, true team player, very competetive and well skilled. Off the field he also represented the Blast well but also he represented himself well. Very funny, down to earth and an awesome personality. I wish him well in his new chosen field--Stay Safe.
WOW.. what can you say on that, PJ is truly loved by all fans of all ages. We will miss him dearly on and off the field, but we will always wish him well with his family and his future. PJ Wakefield you're one of the BEST!!!!
My heart is broken as is that of my daughter. She loved PJ and always loved watching him play. Good luck and be safe PJ.
Wakefield's place in Blast history (entering the 2009-10 season):
Ranks 5th in game-winning goals - 6
Tied to rank 7th in 3-point goals - 10
Ranks 8th in power-play goals - 13
Tied to rank 8th in blocks - 198
Tied to rank 9th in assists - 80
Ranks 12th in games played - 205
Ranks 13 in goals - 102
Tied to rank 13th in points - 247
Tied to rank 2nd in 3-point goals - 2
Ranks 4th in blocks - 27
Tied to rank 6th in 2-point goals - 7
Tied to rank 7th in goals - 11
Ranks 8th in assists - 7
Tied to rank 8th games played - 21
Ranks 9th in points - 29