Jason Varitek, the longtime captain of the Boston Red Sox (from 2005-2011), will retire with the team he has played his entire major league career with, which spanned 15 seasons (1997-2011). That news from The Boston Globe today also says the 39-year-old catcher, who was only offered a minor league contract coming into spring training by new GM Ben Cherrington, will remain with the club in an as yet untitled capacity for the upcoming 2012 season. (Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach are the two catchers the team is aiming to anchor the pitching staff this season.)
After being traded with Derek Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for Sox closer Heathcliff Slocumb in July of 1997 as a minor leaguer, ‘Tek rose from the ranks of highly touted pro prospect to everyday catcher, starting in the 1999 season when he hit 20 home runs, drove in 76 RBI and caught 144 games.
More importantly, he was praised for his work ethic and game preparation off the field as much as his brilliance in calling games on the diamond for Hall of Fame-worthy pitchers like Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling, as well as top relievers, including Mike Timlin and closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Aside from his famous face wash of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez in July 2004, ‘Tek most memorably helped lead the Sox staff to two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, and was the game caller for an unprecedented four no-hitters (Hideo Nomo in 2001, Derek Lowe in 2002, Clay Buchholz in 2007, and Jon Lester in 2008). He also retires as a three-time all-star (2003, 2005, and 2008), a Gold Glove winner (2005), has caught more games than any other Sox catcher and has the most regular season homers (193) and postseason homers (11) for a catcher in team history.
Photo credit: maleathletes.blogspot.com (2010)