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Several of Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek’s former teammates had a plethora of good thoughts and memories about his time with the team.
Teammates’ well-wishes were gathered in an official Red Sox press release. In that release, pitcher Clay Buchholtz had one of the best quotes of all:
“He’s an animal. You see every Spring Training what he looks like — he’s just a specimen. I was expecting ’Tek to play until he was 60.”
Josh Beckett also gave Varitek significant kudos, crediting his catcher for being invested in his high performance:
""I’ve never had a catcher before that who I felt like cared more about wanting me to be successful even before he wanted to be successful."
Designated hitter David Ortiz hopes that Varitek won’t be a stranger around Fenway Park in retirement. Varitek reportedly is weighing staying with the organization in an instruction or coaching capacity.
“‘Tek is somebody that I think this organization is going to need forever, especially now that he’s going to retire. I think he’s the kind of person this organization needs to keep very close.”
Jason Varitek's retirement announcement began a little after 5:30 p.m. at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday.
Here's Varitek's statement:
I just want to start off by thanking ownership, thank you Ben [Cherington], thank you everybody for being here. I'd hoped to single out and be able to say thank you individually to each one of my teammates, but it kinda looks like there's a little bit more than I expected, but you have no idea what this means.
Going into this, your last week, this last week leading up to this was probably one of the hardest weeks that you go through as a player. And, to have you guys here, I really appreciate it. And, you guys take time out, you guys had a light game today and thank you. I really appreciate it. That goes for the coaches who are here, [Gary] Tuck, Mags [Dave Magadan], everyone else, training staff, thank you.
Mom, dad, thank you for being here. Leslie, Amanda, Scott, Catherine, girls...I wouldn't have it any other way.
I'm here to officially announce I'm retiring as a player. And after months of deliberating what to do, I decided that it's best for me and my family that I retire, but I retire a Red Sox. My decision to retire wasn't something that I took lightly in any sense of the word nor did I want to do it more than once. This has probably been the most difficult decision I've had to make in my entire career. But, the opportunity to start and finish my major league career in one place meant more to me and that's why I'm standing here today.
Being a part of this Red Sox organization the past 14 years is something I'll truly cherish and I do truly cherish and I thank all of you for giving me this opportunity...because it has taken everybody to allow that to happen. As I reflected on this day, I realized I didn't want this day to just be about me. There are so many people that have impacted my career, my life and I've been extremely blessed and extremely honored to have gotten to wear this uniform and play as long as I have. But along that way, there's been many many people that have impacted and been such a huge part. I'd like to take a moment to really go down and thank these people and give the gratitude that is deserved for helping build a career that I wouldn't have done without them.
It starts with my parents, mom, dad. Thank you. You took me everywhere, drove me around, but most importantly you guys are my heroes. Thank you.
To my brothers, I have three brothers: Joe, Jared, Justin, that are the rocks of my family. I couldn't have asked for any more supportive group of brothers than I have. They can't be here today but I wanted to recognize them and make sure that I thanked them.
To my Little League World Series coaches. To the late Jerry Thurston, coach Thurston, coach Everett, coach Callahan, coach Barfield. They taught us the values of fundamentals and what teamwork can do. And at 12-years-old, it carried a long way.
To my coach and friend Jay Williams. Jay stood by my side and encouraged me to switch hit and he's been my complete supporter from Little League on up and he's probably my biggest fan. My life and my career might not have turned out the way it was if I didn't quite learn how to hit lefthanded.
To my high school coach who stressed the fundamentals in baseball. I still today can bunt because of that.
I also want to recognize my high school football coach because he really instilled in us there's no I in team.
To my college coaches, both Jim Morris and Danny Hall, for a great education at [Georgia] Tech and helping continue to develop myself as a player and as a man.
To Roger Hansen who was my catching instructor at the Seattle organization. He helped and stood by my side and stuck with me through some of the worst times of my career. It always encouraged me that I will see the light at the end of the tunnel and I will be able to figure this stuff out behind the plate, and just encouraged me and stuck with me with hard work to continue to do that.
Now to my Red Sox family, I want to thank Mr. Henry, Mr. Werner, Mr. Lucchino for always keeping me a Red Sox. Dan Duquette and Theo [Epstein] for valuing me as a player. To all my coaches, thank you.
To my managers, Jimy, Grady, Tito [Terry Francona], thank you. I'd probably not be standing here if it was not for Jimy. Jimy one day walked up to me before a game got started in New York, I first got called up and said: 'Tek, you're gonna be a baseball player, you're gonna have a long career.' And that was just the vote of confidence I needed enough to get me over the hump and I'll never forget him for it. Grady, he continued to believe in me as a player, instilling the same confidence that started with Jimy and worked right alongside with me. Tito, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to sail next to you and to captain your ship for two championships.
Next one's tough...coach Tuck. If Webster's needs a definition of 'coach', it's gotta be Gary Tuck. He's meant more to me at an age where I was told my skills have depleted but he pushed me, got me better, stood by my side, believed in me when no one else did and I will forever will have a friend in coach Tuck.
To our entire training staff, thank you. Masai [Takahashi] and Russell [Nua] seemed to have the brunt having to get me on the field and if it wasn't for you two, the majority of the time, I probably wouldn't have gotten out there. Thank you.
To the clubhouse staff, who's the nuts and bolts of any clubhouse. From Joe, Pookie, Billy, Luke, Cundy, Jared, Dean, Kenyatta, Tommy, Cookie, Sal, thank you for taking care of me every day.
To all the babysitters, Sarah McKenna, who took care of these girls while their dad had to play and made their Fenway experience wonderful. Thank you.
Pam Ganley, Sarah Stevenson, Sheri Rosenberg, you guys made media and community relations easy.
To Red Sox nation, the best fans in baseball. Thank you, thank you for making this the most special place to play.
My teammates, it's what I'm gonna miss most...the hardest thing to do is to walk away from your teammates and what they've meant to you over the years. Thank you.
I've been infiltrated with emails and texts over the past week and since it broke a few days ago and I can't say how much that has meant to me, from my friends and people who have supported me over the years. I can't quite mention everybody that has sent emails and texts, but thank you too.
Scott, you've been there since day one, advising me, to listening to me, to help me with my struggles in the minor leagues, to having good times, bad times, but you've been there and it's been a lotta years. And, I thank you.
Leslie, my trainer, I don't even know what to say to him. He's been beside for so many years, meant so much to this family, to these girls, I thank you.
Now it gets to the hard part...Allie, Kendall, Caroline...you made going home from games when things aren't so well that much easier. Just always know, daddy loves you as far as the East is from the West.
Cath, I've been a pain over these last couple months, I've been emotional. This has not been easy. But, thank you. I love you.
As I walk away from this game, I can look at the man in the mirror and be proud that I gave everything I could to this game, this organization, my teammates.
And once again, I just want to say, thank you.
Jason Varitek announced his retirement from Major League Baseball after 15 seasons, all of which were spent with the Boston Red Sox. Varitek announced his decision at a press conference at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday afternoon. Below is the official press release from the Red Sox media relations department on Tek's retirement.
FORT MYERS, FL - Catcher Jason Varitek tonight announced his retirement during a press conference held at the Red Sox Spring Training home, JetBlue Park at Fenway South.
"It is rare that a great athlete is regarded as much for his contributions as for his achievements," said Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry. "Boston Red Sox players will tell you how year after year Jason made them better-made us better-how he gave of himself to help ensure that his teammates were prepared to win. He caught four no-hitters-a Major League record-thrown by four different pitchers. While he did not seek to lead he, in fact, led us to two world championships. He does not need a face mask, a chest protector, nor shin guards to continue to contribute to baseball and to the Red Sox. We congratulate him, we thank him, and we expect that he will always be a part of the Red Sox family."
"Jason has personified the rugged, aggressive, fiercely-competitive style of play that has characterized our club for more than a decade," said club Chairman Tom Werner. "His teammates knew it; our fans knew it, and opposing players knew it. At the same time, he would shed that gruff exterior in the community to reveal a generous heart that touched countless fans. I don't know anyone who was more touched to meet the soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, or to welcome them to Fenway Park. He would quietly visit kids at Children's Hospital and then buy tickets and t-shirts for their visit to Fenway, where he would meet each of them before a game. He has been an inspiration on and off the field."
"Jason was our captain for a reason," said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. "He was a leader among his peers. He was in the thick of our battles, a warrior who helped create a winning attitude and a championship atmosphere. He has been so proud to be a member of the Red Sox-and we have been so proud to have him as a member of the Red Sox. Jason can take great satisfaction in knowing the key role he played in leading his teams to eight postseason berths and two remarkable World Series sweeps. Well done, Captain."
Named the 18th full-time captain in Red Sox history on December 24, 2004, Varitek was behind the plate in a club-record 1,488 contests. The 39-year-old appeared in 15 seasons with the club, the fourth-longest tenured Red Sox ever who never played for another Major League team behind Carl Yastrzemski (23), Ted Williams (19) and Jim Rice (16). He is one of five backstops to catch at least 1,400 games for a single franchise while spending his entire career with that club, joining Johnny Bench (Reds), Bill Dickey (Yankees), Bill Freehan (Tigers) and Jorge Posada (Yankees).
A three-time All-Star (2003, 2005 and 2008), Varitek was named the Red Sox Rookie of the Year in 1998 and won the club's MVP Award in 2003. The switch-hitter became the first Boston catcher ever to win a Silver Slugger Award when he received the honor in 2005, the same year he was also honored with a Gold Glove Award.
Originally signed by Seattle as a first-round selection in the 1994 First-Year Player Draft, Varitek was acquired by Boston from the Mariners on July 31, 1997 along with right-handed pitcher Derek Lowe in exchange for right-hander Heathcliff Slocumb. He finishes his career with a .256 average (1,307-for-5,099), 306 doubles, 14 triples, 193 home runs, 757 RBI, 614 walks and 664 runs in 1,546 career Major League games from 1997-2011. Varitek ranks among the franchise's all-time leaders in overall games played (9th), doubles (9th), extra-base hits (9th, 513), RBI (10th), plate appearances (10th, 5,839), home runs (11th), at-bats (11th) and walks (13th). His 190 career home runs and 739 RBI as a catcher are the most for a Boston player at the position, and he is one of six catchers to record 300 doubles and 150 homers in the American League. He is also the all-time leader among Red Sox switch-hitters in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, walks, extra-base hits and total bases (2,220), and has caught the third-most games ever by a switch-hitter after Ted Simmons (1,771) and Posada (1,574).
The only catcher in Major League history to be behind the plate for four no-hitters, Varitek has led the American League in catcher ERA four times (1999, 2000, 2004, 2009). His 4.08 career catcher's ERA is the best in the AL since 1997 among players with at least 800 games caught in the circuit, and his 3.95 mark over the last six years from 2006-11 places second in the AL among catchers with at least 300 games played. Varitek holds the all-time lead in fielding percentage at any position among Red Sox players with at least 600 contests with the club, posting a .994 clip (69 errors/10,776 total chances), and is second in putouts (10,166) to Yastrzemski (10,437). His 1,488 games caught rank 30th all-time and 15th in the AL history.
Varitek won World Series Championships with Boston in 2004 and 2007 and is the club's all-time postseason leader in games (63) and at-bats (228). He also ranks second among Red Sox postseason leaders in runs (37), hits (54), doubles (12) and home runs (tied, 11), and is third in RBI (33). Varitek is third in all-time postseason starts (58) and games at catcher (62), behind Jorge Posada (106, 119) and Yogi Berra (61, 63).
The 1999 winner of the Jackie Jensen Hustle Award from the Boston Chapter of the BBWAA and 2006 recipient of the Red Sox Heart and Hustle Award, Varitek has been an active participant in the Red Sox community outreach. Through his Tek's 33s ticket program, he invited patients from Children's Hospital Boston to games throughout the season and met with the groups during batting practice. He hosted an annual celebrity putt-putt event, which has recently benefitted Journey Forward, a non-profit organization that aims to better the lives of those with spinal injuries, and often auctioned off specially designed game-worn catcher's gear with proceeds going to Boston-area non-profit organizations.
Born in Rochester, MI, Varitek graduated from Lake Brantley High School in Longwood, FL. He attended Georgia Tech where he was a three-time All-American and received several awards and accolades, including the Dick Howser Trophy as the College Player of the Year in 1994. Varitek has played for championships at every level including the Little League World Series, the 1990 state high school title, the College World Series in 1994, the 1992 Olympics with the U.S. team, and the World Series with Boston in 2004 and 2007.
The captain is finally calling it a career. Jason Varitek, the longtime captain and lifelong member of the Boston Red Sox, officially announced his retirement from Major League Baseball after 15 seasons in a press conference Thursday afternoon in Fort Myers, Florida.
"I'm here to officially announce that I'm retiring as a player," Varitek said, standing in front of home plate on the field at JetBlue Park. "After months of deliberating what to do, I decided that it's best to me and my family to retire a Red Sox. This has probably been the most difficult decision of my career."
Varitek played in over 1,500 games with the Sox (1,546 to be exact) in a career that began in 1997 when he was 25 years old. Varitek was drafted No. 14 overall in the first round of the 1994 amateur draft, but was traded to Boston along with Derek Lowe. Varitek debuted with the Sox on September 24, 1997. He went on to .256 and hit 193 home runs and drove in 757 RBI, all while anchoring the pitching staff and catching a record four no-hitters.
After 15 years with the Red Sox, Jason Varitek is finally set to hang up his cleats, leaving behind one of the greatest legacies in Red Sox history.
Oh captain my captain, you are no longer. Jason Varitek, one of the longest tenured captains of the Boston Red Sox, will announce his retirement on Thursday. Who (if anyone) should be the next member of the Sox to wear the 'C' on their jersey?
Jason Varitek may be hanging up his catcher’s mask on Thursday, but he probably will not be saying goodbye to the Boston Red Sox family.
Both WCVB’s Mike Lynch and Comcast SportsNet’s Maureen Mullen are reporting that Varitek will take a position within the team. Lynch is reporting that the former catcher may start out as a traveling minor league instructor. Varitek could jump to a minor league mangerial role as soon as next season.
Red Sox fans took to Twitter to express their hope that Varitek won’t go too far in retirement. A Twitter user named, “MaineLawyer” summed up the thoughts of many when he tweeted, “It’s the right time, but I hope Red Sox offer him a coaching position in the organization.”
Ladies and Gentleman, the Captain has taken his final bow. Catcher Jason Varitek informed the Boston Red Sox that he has decided to retire from Major League Baseball after 15 seasons. Varitek spent all 15 years of his career in Boston.
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