Jason Andrew Varitek was born April 11, 1972 in Rochester, Michigan. His family moved to Longwood, Florida when Jason was 7. He’s the second-oldest son of Donna and Joseph Varitek, and has three brothers: Justin, Jared and Joe.
Jason played in the 1984 Little League World Series when he was 12 years old. His Altamonte Springs team lost in the finals to Seoul, South Korea by a score of 6-2. He played shortstop, third base and catcher in his three LLWS games.
In high school, Jason played third base and catcher for Lake Brantley High School. The Lake Brantley Patriots won the state championship in 1990 and were later named the number one high school baseball team in the nation by USA TODAY. This year is also the year that there was a lot of baseball bats sponsored in high schools.
Jason was drafted by the Houston Astros right out of high school but decided to go to college instead, selecting Georgia Tech over the University of Miami and the University of Central Florida.
Jason graduated from Georgia Tech, but not before leaving his mark. He was the first baseball player in school history to have his number (33) retired. Other distinctions include:
- Baseball America’s 1993 Player of the Year
- Selected to Baseball America’s “All-Time College All-Star Team”
- Three-time Consensus All-American (1992, 1993 & 1994)
- Inducted in to Georgia Tech Hall of Fame
- 1994 College World Series runner-up
- Most career games played (253)
- Most career runs scored (261)
- Most career base hits (351)
- Most career doubles (82)
- Most home runs in a single game (3)
- Most career home runs (57)
- Most career RBI’s (251)
- Most career total bases (610)
- Most walks in a season (76)
He played with future teammates Nomar Garciaparra and Jay Payton and took part in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. After his 1994 senior season, Varitek won three different collegiate baseball awards:
- 1994 Golden Spikes Award
- 1994 Rotary Smith Award
- 1994 Dick Howser Trophy
All three awards recognizing him as the outstanding American collegiate baseball player. Jason also has the distinction of being the first of only two players in Georgia Tech history to top 200 in both RBI and runs.
Jason also played for the Hyannis Mets of the Cape Cod Baseball League during the summers of 1991 and 1993 around a stint with Team USA in 1992. After hitting a respectable .263 in ’91, the switch-hitting backstop returned to win the CCBL’s Pat Sorenti Award as the League MVP and the Thurman Munson Award with the highest batting avg. (.371) in 1993, while also compiling a .514 on-base percentage and a .552 slugging average. And also need to remember that the bat he uses is the best wood bat of that year. He is still in contact with his host family, the Kings.
Jason was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 1994 amateur draft, and the 14th pick overall. A pioneer of the loopholes in the draft process (see article here), he signed with a small team in the independent Northern League before agreeing to terms with the Mariners. He did not enter the Mariners minor league system until 1995, playing for the Port City Roosters.
In 1997, in what has been said to be one of the most lopsided trades in recent MLB history and in the Red Sox favor, he was traded from the Seattle Mariners with pitcher Derek Lowe, to the Red Sox in return for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.
Jason was called up only once during the 1997 season (a base hit to left at Tiger Stadium in the ninth inning), but played 86 games in 1998. He became the Red Sox full-time catcher in 1999, playing 144 games that season.
The future team captain didn’t start out wearing the number 33! Jason wore the number 47 from 1997 until August of 1999. The number 33 (his number at Georgia Tech and with the Port City Roosters) was worn by two different pitchers during his first years with Boston: Steve Avery wore #33 during the 1997-1998 season and then pitcher Kirk Bullinger wore it for most of the 1999 season.
On April 4, 2001, Jason caught his first No-Hitter. Hideo Nomo was on the mound against the against the Baltimore Orioles, walking three and striking out eleven. This no-hitter was the first in the 10-year history of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and made Nomo the first Red Sox to pitch a no-hitter since Dave Morehead did back in 1965.
On June 7, 2001, he cracked his left elbow while trying to catch a foul ball that wandered into the stands, and sat out the rest of the season; the Red Sox, atop the division by one game with a 34-24 record when he got injured, went 48-55 the rest of the way and finished 13 games behind the Yankees.
On April 27, 2002, Jason caught his second No-Hitter. Derek Lowe, who had been traded with Jason to the Red Sox from the Seattle Mariners was on the mound against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Fenway Park.
Lowe admitted to long-time Red Sox radio game announcer Joe Castiglione in 2009 that when he left for the Dodgers in 2005, he wasn’t thrilled about leaving his catcher behind, “That was one of the concerns of mine when I went to L.A., because I went for months without ever shaking him off. I was like on ‘auto pilot’ when Jason caught. You don’t see guys shaking Varitek off because of his preparation. You have to think more on your own [in L.A.], and that’s where you get spoiled with Jason because then you can just let him call the whole game.”
In 2004, Jason had a career-high .296 batting average with 18 home runs and 73 RBI’s. During the 2004 World Series, Jason batted against St. Louis Cardinals’ Jason Marquis, the first time two former Little League World Series participants have faced each other in the Major League World Series.
After the World Series, Jason became a free agent and re-signed with Boston on December 24th to a 4-year, $40 million contract. In addition, the Red Sox surprised Jason, who was considered the “unofficial” Captain of the team, by appointing him as the official Captain, only the third named Captain since 1923. Currently, there are only three other captains in Major League Baseball: Derek Jeter (New York Yankees) Mike Sweeney (Kansas City Royals) and Paul Konerko (Chicago White Sox).
In 2005, Jason was awarded with both the Silver Slugger Award and the coveted Gold Glove Award. His name plate and photo are attached to the large Gold Glove Award exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
August 5, 2005: Jason hit his first career grand slam in a game against the Kansas City Royals highlighting an eight-run fourth inning as the Boston Red Sox beat the Royals 11-9 at Fenway Park, stretching their winning streak to eight games. The eight-run explosion was the most runs scored in an innings this season for the Red Sox, erasing a 5-1 deficit and giving them their 12th win in 15 games and a season-best 17 games above .500 (62-45). Edgar Renteria contributed four RBIs while Varitek finished 4-for-5 driving in five runs and scoring twice.
2008 season –
March 25th: Jason started his ninth straight opener, the most Opening Day starts for a catcher in club history. It’s the longest streak for any Red Sox player since outfielder Mike Greenwell started nine in a row from 1988 through 1996.
April 6, 2008: Jason’s second homer of the season against the Blue Jay’s Roy Halladay in the fifth inning (a bomb that hit the “Windows” restaurant in Rogers Centre) marked his 150th home run – all as a member of the Red Sox, moving him past Reggie Smith and into 16th place on the Sox’ all-time list. His first major league home run came on May 10, 1998 off Kansas City’s Jose Rosado in the fifth inning at Kaufman Stadium. It was a 2-run blast to deep left.
May 19, 2008: Jason caught Jon Lester’s No-Hitter against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. Jason is the only Major League catcher in history to catch four no-hitters. He previously caught the no-no’s of Hideo Nomo’s in 2001, Derek Lowe’s in 2002 and Clay Buchholz’s in 2007. To add to the already exciting evening, Jason also hit a 2-run home run (his fifth of the season). The next day, Jason’s catcher’s gear was sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
July 6, 2008: Jason was selected once again as an All-Star for the 79th Annual All-Star Game held on July 15th at Yankee Stadium. Jason was an All-Star in 2003 and 2005. What made this a special selection was that Jason, mired in a slump during the month of June, was voted in by his peers – he received the MLB players vote!
August 22, 2008: For the first time in his career, Jason homered in three consecutive games. Two solo home runs in Baltimore against the Orioles on August 18th and 19th (his first back-to-back homers since September 21-22, 2007 against Tampa Bay) enabled Varitek to become the first Boston catcher to hit at least 10 home runs in nine seasons, breaking a tie with Carlton Fisk. The third came on August 22nd at Rogers Centre in Toronto. All three games were wins for the Red Sox.
September 1, 2008: Jason’s solo blast in the bottom of the second at Fenway not only put the Sox on the board (Orioles had already hit 2 homers against Sox starter Paul Byrd) but helped them with an eventual win against Baltimore once again. It also tied him with Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk as the 157th career homer with the Red Sox while playing catcher. The captain’s five home runs against the Orioles this year tied him with Manny Ramirez and Carlos Pena of Tampa Bay for the most against the Baltimore team.
2008 Playoffs: Over the past three seasons, including playoffs, the Red Sox have a .596 winning percentage in games in which Varitek has appeared and a .508 winning percentage when he did not. This season, the Red Sox went 78-53 with him in the regular season, 17-14 without him.
October 5, 2008, Game 5 of the ALCS: The Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 on at Fenway Park to advance to the American League Championship Series for the fourth time in six years. But it wouldn’t have been a win if not for the tag Jason Varitek put on a running Reggie Willets as the two scrambled up the line towards third base after a failed squeeze play.
“Tek looked like a linebacker trying to tackle him. He had some closing speed. I’ve never seen that out of him. I’m just excited that [Aybar] didn’t get the bunt down. That would have been huge momentum for them. It actually shifted our way. It was huge for ‘Tek to chase down the fastest – other than Jacoby – the fastest guy on the field!” — Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia talking about Jason Varitek’s tag-tackle of the Angels Reggie Willits.
October 18, 2008, Game 6 of the ALCS: Jason picked a fitting time to break out of his postseason skid – by lining a James Shields fastball over the right-center-field fence for a solo homer in the sixth inning on Saturday night pulling Boston ahead in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox would later win the game 4-2.
October, 2008: Jason becomes a free agent.
2009 season –
January 31, 2009: After declining arbitration in December of 2008, Jason ultimately returned to the Red Sox for his 13th season, and his 5th as team captain. During his first interview with the media on February 14th at spring training, Jason said he was happy to be back and confident he could turn his career around after a long and arduous offseason filled with doubt and angst on whether he’d return as the Red Sox’ starting catcher.
But he thinks through his hard work this offseason, trying to simplify his swing and feeling healthy, he should set himself up for a successful season while also expressing hope that he could retire in a Red Sox uniform. Certainly talks between Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, and the team were nonexistent at times this winter, but a meeting with John Henry late in the process seemed to pick up the pace and the sides began to compromise. The end game was a one-year $5 million deal and an option, which also included incentives.
I wouldn’t say there wasn’t any doubt,” said Varitek when asked if he thought he was definitely returning, “but there was no doubt in what I wanted and what my heart wanted. This is where I always wanted to be. I continued to do what I had to do. I had to train … I had to go through those things regardless of what was going on. Career-wise I still had to put myself in a position to play baseball.”
And now that he’s back in uniform, “I’m just glad at this point that it’s over with. I’m ecstatic that I’m a Red Sox. I’m ecstatic that I have the peace of mind that I’ll be in this uniform and closer to retiring in this uniform. Not saying I see retirement anytime soon, but it allows me the opportunity to do what’s most important to wear the ‘C’ for this group of fans and this organization. We spent a lot of time building championships.”
Red Sox owner John Henry was pleased to see his team captain return, “I’m very very happy that he chose to remain with us. He’s the captain. He has done everything he could to help this team win championships each year – more than anyone asks.” Longtime teammate and friend Tim Wakefield was also happy with Varitek’s return, “Words can’t describe what Jason Varitek means to this club. To use the cliché, he’s the glue that holds the ship together. It would have been sad to see him in another uniform and I’m glad that we were able to sign him back. Not only is he a great athlete and a great teammate, but he’s great friend of mine. Just having him in the clubhouse, two lockers down to me. I know for the rest of the guys who throw to him, it was very important for us to sign him back.”
Opening Day, April 7, 2009: When Jason took his position behind homeplate for the 2009 Opening Day Game, it was his tenth Opening Day start in a Red Sox uniform.
Jason is tied with Dom DiMaggio, Mike Greenwell, and HOF’er Wade Boggs for eighth most in Red Sox history.
Seven Boston players have more Opening Day starts, and five are in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Carl Yastrzemski (22), Jim Rice (14,) Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams (13), and Harry Hooper (11). The players ahead of Varitek and not in the Hall of Fame are Dwight Evans (17), Rico Petrocelli (12).
April 9, 2009: Jason belted his 2nd home run of the 2009 regular season on Thursday vs. the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway (plus 5 home runs in spring training) which places him at 163 home runs hit by the catcher for the Red Sox. Jason moved past Tony Conigliaro and Carlton Fisk and into sole possession of 13th place on the Red Sox All-Time list. Jackie Jensen is number 12 with 170 home runs hit. Look out Jackie, Tek’s gonna catch ya!
April 25, 2009: In the second game of a 3-game series against the visiting Yankees, Jason hit his third career grand slam into the visitor’s bullpen in right field helped the Red Sox recover from an early six-run deficit as they beat the New York Yankees 16-11 for the second straight night (and their League-leading ninth straight win). Jason’s first grand slam was August 5, 2005 against the Kansas City Royals and his second was as a member of Team USA in a game against Team Canada at Chase Field in the World Baseball Classic in Phoenix, Arizona on March 8, 2006.
May 20, 2009: There were five home runs in this game against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, including the first of 2009 by David Ortiz and a pair from Jason Varitek. Four of those blasts came in the bottom of the fifth inning, tying a franchise record on a night the Red Sox downed the Blue Jays, 8-3. Varitek started the fireworks in that memorable fifth by smoking a solo shot to center against Jays starter Brett Cecil. It was Varitek’s first multi-homer game since Aug. 16, 2005.
Tek and May 20th:
May 20, 2009: 2-3, 2HR
May 20, 2008: 0-2
May 20, 2007: 2-4, 4 RBI
May 20, 2006: 1-4
May 20, 2005: 2-4, HR
May 20, 2004: 2-4, HR
May 20, 2003: 1-3, HR
May 20, 2002: 3-3, HR
May 20, 2001: 4-4, 3HR
May 28, 2009: Jason hit two home runs against the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome in the fourth of a three-game series to put two of the three runs on the board to win the game. It was Jason’s ninth multi-homer game of his career.
The first homer, in the top of the fifth, was estimated at 408 feet to center. The second homer in the seventh was estimated at 427 feet, landing in the upper deck in right-center. Both came from the left side. The second homer gave him 10 on the season, making him the 16th catcher in history to record double digits in home runs in 10 different seasons.
Jason is the first Boston catcher in 30 years (since Carlton Fisk) to have two multi-homer games in 10 days.
Those two homers put him just behind Carlton Fisk (11) in multi-homer games by a Sox catcher.
The game took a walk on the wild side in that seventh inning, when minor league umpire Todd Tichenor, filling in for another umpire ejected four from the game: Twins catcher Mike Redmond, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in the top of the seventh, and then Jason and Red Sox manager Terry Francona in the bottom of the seventh. Redmond was tossed for arguing a close safe call that scored Sox first baseman Jeff Baily. Gardenhire was tossed for arguing against Redmond’s ejection.
Tichenor tossed Jason when he stood up after a Josh Beckett pitch to the Twins Brendan Harris was called a ball. Beckett was disgusted with the call and expressed his feelings towards Tichenor, which prompted Varitek’s response.
“I know Beckett yelled in but Tek is protecting Beckett and I’m protecting Tek,” said Francona. “He got Tek, and that’s what I didn’t want to have happen, but I’m not fast enough to get out there in time. I’d rather have him throw me out than Tek. Tek’s going to have a hell of a lot more to do with the outcome than I am.”
Crew chief Jerry Layne said this about Tek, “Varitek was trying to keep his pitcher in the game. Varitek took one for the team, basically.”
Asked about the situation later, Varitek said, “I need a timeout, I may say something I might regret.”
It was only the fourth time in his long MLB career that Varitek was ejected from a game.
June 20, 2009: Jason logged his 280th and 281st doubles, passing Nomar Garciaparra (279) for sole possession of eighth place on the Red Sox all-time list, during an interleague game against the Atlanta Braves and his old teammate Derek Lowe at Fenway Park. Lowe’s sinker stymied the Red Sox through four innings and produced 10 groundouts before Varitek stepped in with two outs in the fifth. Varitek drove the ball high off the Green Monster. In the seventh, Jason popped a one-out double off the Wall and shortstop Nick Green brought him home with a single up the middle. The Red Sox won 3-0 in Josh Beckett’s first complete game shutout with Boston.
June 24, 2009: Jason’s 11th home run of the season (a 2-run shot over the center field wall at Nationals stadium) gave him the second-highest ratio in the majors for extra base hits (26 for 43) behind only Rays first baseman Carlos Pena at 64 percent. Nine of Jason’s last 12 hits during this time (six doubles, three homers) have gone for extra bases.
Jason and David Ortiz are closing in on Manny Ramírez for the Red Sox record for most different ballparks having homered in. Ramírez hit home runs in 25 parks for Boston. Varitek’s home run in Washington on this day gives him 24 parks. Ortiz’s the same night brings him to 23.
July 4, 2009: Jason’s two-run homer over the Green Monster in a game against the Seattle Mariners gave him 688 career RBI, moving him past Wade Boggs (687) for 16th place on the Red Sox all-time list (15th – Nomar Garciaparra, 690).
July 7, 2009: With a 2-4 night with 2 singles and 2 RBI against the Oakland Athletics, Jason tied Nomar Garciaparra for 15th place on the Red Sox All-Time list with 690 career RBI.
July 17, 2009: Through the All-Star break this year, Tek has a catcher’s ERA of 3.80 — the ERA of Red Sox pitchers when he is behind the plate — a number that is the best in the American League among though who have caught at least 50 games. (By contrast, the catcher’s ERA of George Kottaras is more than a full run higher, 4.89, though he works almost exclusively with Tim Wakefield.) According to the Boston Globe’s Tony Massarotti, “That number is not a commentary on Varitek so much as it a reflection of the harmony that generally exists between Red Sox pitchers and their starting catcher, a man widely regarded throughout baseball as one of the best in the game when it comes to handling a pitching staff.”
July 19, 2009: Jason passed Dom DiMaggio for ninth place on the Red Sox All-Time list for games played with 1,400.
August 21, 2009: After missing three games with muscle spasms in his neck, Tek came off the bench to replace Victor Martinez in the late innings of the Sox game against the New York Yankees and promptly hit his 14th home run of the season and his 700th career RBI, making him the 15th Sox player to reach the milestone!
November 11, 2009: Tek exercised his $3 million player option with the club for 2010. He will back up and mentor the new starting catcher, Victor Martinez, aquired from the Cleveland Indians during the July trade deadline.
“We’re happy to have Jason back and we look forward to a good year from him in 2010,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said in a statement. “He means an awful lot to the organization on and off the field. He helps solidify our catching position also and is a big asset to the pitching staff.”
Acquired by Boston from Seattle on July 31, 1997, Varitek has hit .259 (1,232-for-4,765) with 175 home runs and 705 RBI in 1,439 career Major League games over parts of 13 seasons with the Red Sox. He has been behind the plate in a club-record 1,381 contests and ranks among franchise all-time leaders in overall games played (9th), doubles (8th, 290), home runs (12th), RBI (15th) and walks (15th, 583).
2010 season –
April 10, 2010: Jason hit two home runs in his first game of the regular season – a win against the Kansas City Royals at Kaufmann Stadium. The first, a curveball off 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke in the fifth inning came on the heels of a homer by Jeremy Hermida. The second shot, another curveball off pitcher Luis Mendoza in the ninth inning went straight over the fence in centerfield.
Jason told WRKO Radio after the game that he was a “nervous wreck” about the game, because he hasn’t quite figured out how to stay fresh and sharp in a back-up role. The two-home run game came on the eve of his 38th birthday, and he told WRKO’s Joe Castiglione that he was “tickled pink” to have his daughters at the game because they were wondering if he was ever going to play.
With the two homers, Jason now has 1,234 career hits, moving him past Manny Ramirez(1,233) for 17th on the Red Sox’ All-Time list. (16th is Duffy Lewis with 1,248).
Jason also has 2,081 total bases, moving him past Mo Vaughn (2,074) for 15th place (14th Frank Malzone, 2,123).
May 11, 2010: Jason socked his sixth homer in his 40th plate appearance in win at Fenway against the Toronto Blue Jays, which is 85 appearances sooner than last season. It’s the most homers through 14 games at any time in his career. He’s hit three homers in his last eight games and his 715 RBIs put him one short of Frank Malzone for 14th place on the Red Sox’ all-time list.
June 3, 2010: As we head into the month of June…
— Jason has 1,249 career hits, moving him past Duffy Lewis (1,248) for 16th place on the Red Sox’ all-time list (15th with 1,277).
— The Captain also has 628 runs scored, tying him with Mo Vaughn for 20th place.
— And, he has 717 RBI, moving him past Frank Malzone (716) for 14th and Mike Greenwell (13th with 726).
July 2, 2010: Jason was slated to be the starting catcher after a fractured thumb sent Victor Martinez to the DL. However, on Wednesday, June 30th, Jason suffered a minimally displaced fracture of the metatarsal in his right foot when he took a foul ball off the foot during Carl Crawford’s at-bat in the seventh inning of the Sox vs. Rays game at Fenway Park. Jason played on, but left the game before the ninth inning.
He arrived in the clubhouse on this date wearing a boot and using crutches. He was put on the Disabled List and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
“I was looking forward to being healthy and playing but you can’t dictate the timing of something like this happening. I thought I’d be able to play Saturday,” Jason said to reporters who gathered around his locker.
While both catchers begin their recuperation, neither of them plans to be out of the equation entirely. Jason said he and Martinez plan to be available to Kevin Cash and Gustavo Molina as much as they are needed.
“Any feedback they need, if they need any questions answered, how certain things transpire, certain pitches, certain hitters,” Jason said.
September 6, 2010: Jason was activated off the Disabled List after playing in two rehab games with the Pawtucket Red Sox. As for returning to action in Boston, Jason said, “We’ve got a month left, but I’m going to play. I’m excited to. I’m doing some things as good or better than I ever have.”
September 7, 2010: Jason returned to the Red Sox lineup against the Tampa Bay Rays after missing 58 games with a fractured foot.
“He’s been the captain,” Terry Francona said after the game. “He’s never once not been there for somebody. He supports everybody. He’s vocal — he’s probably more vocal than he used to be. He’s done a terrific job being the captain. He’s worked hard to get himself back to being available. He’s taken all his positives and all his attributes and he’s taken them into his therapy and his rehab. And the way he helps the players, it’s fun to watch.”
September 28, 2010: In Chicago for the final series of the season against the White Sox, the Red Sox captain played in his 1,477th game for the Red Sox since being called up for the first time in 1997.
October 3, 2010: Jason caught the last game of the 2010 Red Sox season. It was a win against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Jason has played in 1,478th Major League games, all with the Red Sox. He has 1,258 hits, 182 home runs, and 721 RBI.
He received two standing ovations from the home crowd during the game – the first was in the 8th inning as he came up to bat, “Yeah, it caught me way off guard when I went to go hit,” he said. “I can’t really say that every bone in my body wasn’t shaking. I had to really try to take a few deep breaths and try to relax a little bit.”
The second came in the 9th inning when he was taken out of the game by manager Terry Francona and replaced with Kevin Cash, “It’s obvious how dear this place has been to me,” said the Red Sox Captain. “I’ve been fortunate to be in one place my whole career. You have that kind of respect from the fan base. More importantly, you have that respect from your teammates. It’s emotional. I feel like I can do some things still. I’ll just have to see. You’re not always in control of what is ahead of you.”
Red Sox general manager told reporters during his press conference after the game, “”No matter what happens going forward, he’s a Red Sox. More than anyone of us, he’s a Red Sox. The future is uncertain. While that warmth the fans showed and his teammates showed may have seemed like a goodbye, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. I think there’s uncertainty with our catching situation, and we’ll see how things turn out. That’s the nature of the future. We just don’t know. But for today, it was a very, very appropriate moment for a guy who has meant more to this franchise than just about anybody.”
December 10, 2010: The Red Sox officially announced that they had re-signed Jason to a one-year deal. Of course, he was excited to return, “It’s awesome, it’s awesome,” Jason told WEEI’s Mike Petraglia. “Did I hope for it? Yes, I hoped for it and wished that it would happen. Did I necessarily think this go-around they may go in other directions? Yeah. I was excited I didn’t have to make that final decision.”
2011 season –
February 20, 2011: Jason held court with the press for the first time since arriving at spring training on February 13th. He spoke about being fit, healthy and with retirement not yet in his sights. Asked whether he could envision himself being another Carlton Fisk and Bob Boone and play into his 40s he said, “Absolutely. If my body holds up and I’m able to do the things I feel I can still do then I’ll play as long as I can. If I start compromising my livelihood for my kids later in life then I’ve got to start questioning things. If I’m not putting myself in a competitive spot to help a team win, then I have to question things again. Going to back to the question, is that what I envision? Yes, that’s what I envision.”
Jason told reporters that this is the healthiest he’s been in a long time. He’s recovered from his broken foot, all of his other back, neck and leg ailments have gotten better. He was able to work out more than he has in many years this offseason.
He also said he is more prepared in his role as back-up catcher to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Asked how he accepted and embraced the new role, “Accept it or embrace it, that’s two different things because things can change quickly. You can’t not be prepared. Just like Vic last year breaking his thumb. You have to be ready right now in the middle of that game.”
May 21, 2011: Jason caught his 1,500th game during interleague play against the Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park. Both teams wore throwback uniforms in honor of the Cubs’ first visit to Fenway since the 1918 World Series. Although Jason had a single and a walk in the early innings with a Red Sox lead and guided new Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves to a quality start (5IP, 3H, 1R, 2BB, 2Ks), the team fell to the Cubs after a rough “end of the world” type eighth inning, where everything seemed to go wrong. Ironically, it was on the day that Christian Fundamentalist Harold Campings predicted would indeed be the end of the world or the Rapture. Red Sox manager Terry Francona, during his post-game press conference after the 9-3 loss, told a reporter who had asked the day earlier about the Rapture, “You were close. The world came to an end in the eighth.”
May 29, 2011: Jason hit his 300th career double during a the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. He is only the sixth catcher in American League history to reach 300 doubles and 150 homers!
June 30, 2011: During the last game of three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Jason accounted for the Red Sox’ third and fifth runs when he went deep to right field for his fourth and fifth home runs of the season. The two solo shots allowed the catcher to now hit safely in 16 of his last 20 starts.
The game marked the first time since 2007 that Varitek had hit as high as the No. 5 spot in the order, being slotted just behind cleanup hitter Dustin Pedroia. It was also his 11th career multi-home run game.
Since May 1st, Jason has the second-best OPS (.935) of any catcher. In that time the captain’s batting average is .309.
August 21, 2011: Jason’s 1,300th career hit came in the form of a two-out triple (his 14th career triple) in the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals which rolled to the right-center fence, allowing Jed Lowrie to score in the fifth to break a scoreless deadlock. The Sox went on to win the game 6-1. Tek’s last triple was June 24, 2007 against Jake Peavy and the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. In the eighth inning of that same game Jason came up big again hitting his eighth home run of the season off Scott Linebrink.
August 31, 2011: Jason Varitek’s 10th home run of the season, a two-run insurance shot in the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, put him in an exclusive club with Carlton Fisk. They’re the only backstops in Major League history to reach double-digit homers in a season at age 39 or older.
When looking at the Sox’s catching combo together, there’s more history to be found. Varitek’s output, combined with Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s career-high total of 13 homers, gives Boston a pair of catchers with at least 10 long balls for the first time in nearly a half-century. The last two to do it were Bob Tillman (14) and Jim Pagliaroni (11) in 1962. (MLB.com).
Off the field: Jason is the proud father of three daughters, Alexandra Rose (1/14/00), Kendall Anne (9/30/01) and Caroline Morgan (6/13/05). The announcement of Caroline’s birth was made at Fenway Park during the eighth inning that day and was immediately followed by the Neil Diamond song, “Sweet Caroline”, a Fenway Park favorite.