Last week catcher Jason Varitek announced his retirement from Major League baseball after fifteen years behind the plate for the Boston Red Sox.
Tell me if this sounds at all familiar:
The team extended Varitek an invitation to Spring Training, but would not guarantee him a roster spot. Immediately, I thought back to 1990, when the Red Sox released another of their all time great (and under appreciated by baseball) players, Dwight Evans. In 1990, of Evan’s departure, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston globe wrote, “This decision marks the close of a classy era at Fenway Park.” I can think of no better way to describe Varitek’s departure today.
Yes, that is a paragraph from my blog on February 18th when Tim Wakefield retired. I just changed the name. Didn’t seem like there was a better way to say it, so I decided not to try.
Varitek retires with some pretty substantial credentials. His four no-hitters caught are the most by any catcher in history. He is the only player in history to play in the Little League World Series, the College World Series, the Olympics, the World Baseball Classic, and the World Series.
Varitek holds an impressive place in Red Sox history placing 9th in games played and doubles, 10th in runs batted in, 11th in home runs and at bats, 13th in walks, 15th in hits, and 16th in runs scored. Not bad for a catcher.
Varitek was a three time All-Star and started the game at catcher in 2005. That year he won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Of course, most importantly, he won World Series rings in 2004 and 2007.
In the postseason, Varitek played in more games than any other Red Sox player in history. In the epic 2004 ALCS, he drove in seven runs, scored five, had nine hits, batted .321, and drew six walks for a .571 on base percentage.
There is talk that Varitek may work in some capacity for the Red Sox. I hope he becomes a coach and stay with the team. In many ways I think he has been the glue that has held that team together, and his loss will most definitely be felt.
Varitek was the 19th Captain in Boston Red Sox history, and only the third since 1923. The last three men to wear the “C” for Boston are now enshrined in Cooperstown (Jimmie Foxx 1940-1942, Carl Yastrzemski 1966 and 1969-1983, and Jim Rice 1985-1989). While I think catching four no-hitters is an accomplishment worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, he’s not likely to get any, which is unfortunate.
I’ve saved Varitek’s greatest moment for last. More than anything else, Varitek will be remembered for punching Alex Rodriguez in the face on July 24, 2004, something many Red Sox fans have wanted to do for a long time. That event is often credited as sparking the Red Sox on to their first World Series championship since 1918. I certainly believe that’s true. Perhaps more Red Sox players should do that. 🙂
Thanks for reading!