Jason Varitek

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Jason Varitek
Jason Varitek on June 30, 2009.jpg
Varitek in 2009
Born: (1972-04-11) April 11, 1972 (age 47)
Rochester, Michigan
Batted: Switch Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 24, 1997, for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 2011, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average .256
Home runs 193
Runs batted in 757
Career highlights and awards

Jason Andrew Varitek (/ˈværtɛk/; born April 11, 1972), nicknamed "Tek", is a retired American baseball catcher for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. As of 2015, he works for the Red Sox as a "Special Assistant to the General Manager".[1] After being traded as a minor league prospect by the Seattle Mariners, Varitek played his entire major league career for the Red Sox. A three-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner at catcher, as well as a Silver Slugger Award winner, Varitek was part of both the 2004 World Series and 2007 World Series Championship teams, and was viewed widely as one of the team's leaders. In December 2004 he was named the captain of the Red Sox, only their fourth captain since 1923.[2] He was a switch-hitter.[3]

Varitek is one of only three players, along with pitcher Ed Vosberg and outfielder Michael Conforto,[4] to have played in the Little League World Series, College World Series, and Major League World Series. He additionally participated in Olympic Baseball and the World Baseball Classic. His Lake Brantley High School baseball team won the Florida State Championship his senior year in 1990 and was named the number one high school baseball team in the nation by a USA Today poll.[5] Varitek caught an MLB-record four no-hitters, a record which was later tied by Carlos Ruiz.[6][7]

Little League career

Varitek played in the 1984 Little League World Series, leading his Altamonte Springs team to victory in the United States Championship bracket in a 4–2 victory over Southport, Indiana. His team then fell in the world championship game to the international champion from Seoul, South Korea, by a score of 6–2.[8] Varitek played shortstop, third base, and catcher in his three LLWS games, performing well defensively, but was hitless going 0 for 7 with two walks and a run scored.[9]

High school and college

Jason was Lake Brantley High School's third baseman and relief catcher. Brantley's first line catcher was Jerry Thurston, himself a pro prospect. In 1990, the Patriots won the state championship.[10] He was also a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team and won the Dick Howser Trophy for National Collegiate Player of the Year.

Varitek was drafted in the 23rd round of the 1990 amateur draft by the Houston Astros, but opted to attend college instead of pursuing professional baseball at that time.[11]

Varitek attended Georgia Tech, where he helped lead the Yellow Jackets baseball team to the 1994 College World Series title game, along with teammates Nomar Garciaparra and Jay Payton (they would lose to the University of Oklahoma). He was also named Baseball America's 1993 College Player of the Year. Varitek graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in management and is the only Tech baseball player to have his number (33) retired.

Early professional career

Varitek played five summers in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Hyannis Mets. In 1993, he hit .371 while winning both the league batting championship and MVP. He was drafted 21st overall in the first round by the Minnesota Twins in 1993,[12] but opted to return for his senior year of college. Following graduation, Varitek signed with agent Scott Boras and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 1994 amateur draft, with the 14th pick overall.[13] A pioneer of the loopholes in the draft process, Varitek signed with the St. Paul Saints in the independent Northern League[14] before agreeing to terms with the Mariners, and consequently did not enter the Mariners' minor league system until 1995. When he finally did join the franchise, Varitek was sent to the AA affiliate Port City Roosters where he first met pitcher and longtime teammate Derek Lowe. He was traded with Lowe to the Red Sox during the 1997 season in return for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb, often cited as one of the best trades in the Red Sox's favor in recent history.[15]

Major league career


Varitek was called up for a single game on September 24, 1997, collecting a single in his only at bat. During the 1998 season, Varitek split time with incumbent catcher Scott Hatteberg playing in 86 games.[3] Varitek showed signs of things to come in the season, and with a strong spring training following the season, Varitek earned the starting catcher position.

1999 was a breakout year for the catcher. Varitek played in 144 games, hitting for a .269 average, with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs.[16] Varitek went 5–21 with 3 RBI in the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians[3] and 4–20 with 1 RBI in the ALCS against the New York Yankees.[3]

Looking forward on building more success from the year before, the 2000 season was a disappointment offensively, producing a .248 average with only 10 home runs and 65 RBI, as the Red Sox failed to qualify for post-season play.[3] Prior to the 2001 season, Varitek signed a 3-year, $14.9 million contract with Boston. Varitek went on a hitting hot streak, having a .310 average at one point and on May 20, 2001, he homered three times in a single game before a broken left elbow injury sidelined the catcher for nearly the rest of the season, as Varitek dove to catch a foul ball on June 7. The play went on to be a top Web Gem for the month of July in 2001. Varitek finished the season with a .293 average, 7 home runs, and 25 RBI in 51 games played.[3]

Varitek returned to the Red Sox lineup full-time in the 2002 season. The return did not go smoothly, however, as Varitek struggled to find himself at the plate. Despite not reaching his full offensive potential,[3] pitchers and coaches alike began to notice how much Varitek's preparation and knowledge of the game was helping the pitchers. His study habits and extra hours of work with pitchers would soon become his defining attribute. Varitek and the Red Sox entered the 2003 season with a renewed fire to reach the playoffs after missing in the previous three years. Varitek instantly became a leader in the clubhouse which management tried to portray as working class, featuring new faces such as Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, and Todd Walker along with original players Trot Nixon and Lou Merloni. 2003 was Varitek's best year to date and earned his first All-Star selection after the fans voted him on with the All-Star Final Vote. He was hitting .296 with 15 HRs and 51 RBIs[17] going into the all-star break and finished the season off with a solid .273 average, 25 HRs and 85 RBIs,[3] all career highs. The Red Sox earned a Wild Card berth and their first playoff appearance since 1999, before losing the 2003 ALCS to the New York Yankees.

In 2004, Varitek compiled a career-high .296 batting average with 18 home runs and 73 RBI. During a nationally televised game on July 24, 2004, Varitek shoved his glove into the face of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez after Rodriguez was hit by a pitch and gestured towards pitcher Bronson Arroyo, causing a bench-clearing brawl. Though he was ejected (along with Rodriguez) from the game following the incident, the Red Sox, spurred on by the fight, came from behind to win 11–10. It is also sometimes regarded as the turning point in the Red Sox season, as they posted MLB's best record after the melee. Boston culminated the season with its first World Series championship in 86 years, after being the first team to overcome a three games to none deficit in the ALCS vs. the New York Yankees.

At the end of the year, Varitek became a free agent and signed a 4-year, $40-million contract with the Red Sox.[18] Because of his performance both on and off the field, the franchise awarded Varitek with the captaincy.


After Varitek's re-signing, the Red Sox appointed him to be the third team captain in franchise history, following hall of famers Carl Yastrzemski (19691983) and Jim Rice (19861989).[18] He became one of the three captains in Major League Baseball. Derek Jeter of the NY Yankees, and Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox were the others. He maintained his captaincy until his retirement before the 2012 season.

In 2005, Varitek won his first Gold Glove Award, his first Silver Slugger, and his second All-Star selection.

In 2006, Varitek represented the United States in the World Baseball Classic, playing in three games. He made the most of his playing time, hitting a grand slam against Team Canada allowing Team USA to narrow an 8–2 lead down to 8–6. Team Canada, however, kept the lead in the upset victory.

On July 18, 2006, Varitek played his 991st game at catcher for the Boston Red Sox, breaking Carlton Fisk's club record. That game was a home game vs. Kansas City, during which Varitek's achievement was recognized before the bottom of the 5th inning (after the game was official and couldn't be cancelled due to weather). Varitek received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at Fenway Park for a few moments before play resumed. On July 31, 2006, Varitek was injured rounding the bases in a 9–8 victory over the Cleveland Indians (his 1000th career game as catcher), but said he believed the initial injury to the knee occurred while he was blocking home plate to make the tag against the Angels Mike Napoli on July 29, 2006. He had surgery on August 3, 2006, to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. Varitek returned to the Red Sox lineup on September 4, following a short rehabilitation assignment in Pawtucket.

On September 19, 2006, Varitek was honored during a pre-game ceremony as the first Red Sox catcher to catch 1,000 games. He was presented with a special award by Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, who held the Boston club record with 990 career games caught before Varitek surpassed it. Varitek caught his 1000th game on July 31 and by the evening of the ceremony had appeared in 1,009 games behind the plate. That same night, Varitek also received the 2006 Red Sox Heart and Hustle Award from the local chapter of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, which is presented to a player exemplifying the values, tradition, and spirit of the game of baseball.

Varitek at bat in 2008

In 2007, Varitek and the Red Sox returned to the World Series, winning for the second time in four years. During the season, Varitek recorded his 1000th career hit. On May 19, 2008, he caught Jon Lester's no-hitter, giving him a Major League record of having caught four separate no-hitters in his career.

In honor of being captain, Varitek released Captain Cabernet, a charity wine with proceeds benefiting Pitching In For Kids and Children's Hospital Boston.[19][20]

At the end of the 2008 season, Varitek opted for free agency, rejecting arbitration that would give him a salary close to the $10 million he made in 2008.[21] Reports in the Boston Globe suggested that his agent, Scott Boras, was using New York Yankee catcher Jorge Posada's four-year, $52.4 million deal as a benchmark for negotiations.[22] On February 6, 2009, Varitek signed a new one-year deal with the Red Sox worth $5 million with a $5 million club option, or a $3 million player option, for 2010.[15][23] During the 2009 season, Varitek's numbers were similar to his dismal 2008 season, with slightly more home runs (14), doubles (24) and runs batted in (51), and a higher slugging percentage (.390) despite a lower batting average (.209) and fewer at bats (425). He eventually became the backup catcher when the Red Sox acquired All-Star Victor Martinez on the July 31 trade deadline.

On December 2, 2010, Sports Illustrated, on its website SI.com, reported that Jason Varitek signed a one-year, two-million dollar deal to stay with the Boston Red Sox for the 2011 season.[24] The deal was finalized on December 10.[25] With the addition of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Varitek usually came off the bench during the 2011 season, playing in 68 games, hitting .221 with 11 home runs, 36 RBI, with a .300 on-base percentage

After the 2011 season, Varitek became a free agent once again, and was offered a minor league contract, with an invitation to spring training, by the Red Sox. On March 1, 2012, at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers, Florida, Varitek officially announced his retirement.

Front office career

On September 27, 2012, Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington announced that Varitek had been named special assistant to the general manager.[1][26] In that role, Cherington said Varitek would be involved in areas such as "major league personnel decisions, evaluations, and mentorship and instruction of young players."[26]

Career statistics

1997 25 Boston Red Sox AL 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
1998 26 Boston Red Sox AL 86 221 31 56 13 0 7 33 2 45 .253 .309 .407 .716
1999 27 Boston Red Sox AL 144 483 70 130 39 2 20 76 1 85 .269 .330 .482 .813
2000 28 Boston Red Sox AL 139 448 55 111 31 1 10 65 1 84 .248 .342 .388 .730
2001 29 Boston Red Sox AL 51 174 19 51 11 1 7 25 0 35 .293 .371 .489 .859
2002 30 Boston Red Sox AL 132 467 58 124 27 1 10 61 4 95 .266 .332 .392 .724
2003 31 Boston Red Sox AL 142 451 63 123 31 1 25 85 3 106 .273 .351 .512 .863
2004 32 Boston Red Sox AL 137 463 67 137 30 1 18 73 10 126 .296 .390 .482 .872
2005 33 Boston Red Sox AL 133 470 70 132 30 1 22 70 2 117 .281 .366 .489 .856
2006 34 Boston Red Sox AL 103 365 46 87 19 2 12 55 1 87 .238 .325 .400 .725
2007 35 Boston Red Sox AL 131 435 57 111 15 3 17 68 1 122 .255 .367 .421 .787
2008 36 Boston Red Sox AL 131 423 37 93 20 0 13 43 0 122 .220 .313 .359 .672
2009 37 Boston Red Sox AL 109 364 41 76 24 0 14 51 0 90 .209 .313 .390 .703
2010 38 Boston Red Sox AL 39 112 18 26 6 0 7 16 0 35 .232 .293 .473 .766
2011 39 Boston Red Sox AL 68 222 32 49 10 1 11 36 0 67 .221 .300 .423 .723

Records and awards

Georgia Tech records[27]

College awards and achievements

MLB career

Red Sox milestones and achievements[31]

  • Became 26th player to hit 100 home runs for club on April 14, 2005
  • Third Red Sox catcher to win a Gold Glove (Carlton Fisk and Tony Pena)
  • First Red Sox at any position to win Gold Glove since Tony Pena in 1991
  • 1,488 games caught – most in 106-year Red Sox history – breaking Carlton Fisk's club record of 990 on July 18, 2006 vs. Kansas City
  • Has caught a Major League record four official no-hitters
    • Hideo Nomo: April 4, 2001 vs Baltimore
    • Derek Lowe: April 27, 2002 vs Tampa Bay
    • Clay Buchholz: September 1, 2007 vs Baltimore (Clay's No-Hitter was his second Major League start)
    • Jon Lester: May 19, 2008 vs Kansas City
    • Does not count the five-inning, rain-shortened no-hit game by Devern Hansack in 2006 (which is not considered an official no-hitter).[6]
  • Most postseason home runs for a catcher (11).
  • Only one of six catchers to have at least two triples in the playoffs. (2).
  • Has played in more postseason games than any other Red Sox player in team history.
  • Most opening-day starts for a Red Sox catcher.

Notable firsts

Personal life

Varitek has three daughters from his first marriage, Alexandra, Kendall and Caroline. He and his first wife, the former Karen Mullinax, divorced in 2008. Varitek married Catherine Panagiotopoulos on November 26, 2011 and their first child, Liv Jordan Varitek, was born on May 27, 2012.[33] Varitek's brother Justin Varitek is the director of athletics at Lake Mary Preparatory School. Varitek is a Christian.[34]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Boston Red Sox name Jason Varitek Special Assistant to the General Manager". Boston Red Sox. Retrieved January 24, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. List of Boston Red Sox captains
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Jason Varitek Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Mets rookie Conforto reaches 3rd World Series". Newsday. https://plus.google.com/111657400568598461034. Retrieved 2015-10-23. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Jason Varitek biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kaplan, Thomas (May 21, 2008). "Red Sox' No-Hitter Puts Varitek in Record Books". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Petraglia, Mike (May 20, 2008). "No-hitter a record fourth for Varitek Red Sox catcher enters history books with Lester in Boston". MLB.com. Retrieved February 3, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Sporting News History of LLWS".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Jason vs. Jason: LLB World Series Participants Square Off in MLB World Series".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "History of Florida State Champions" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Jason Varitek turns 40".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Jason Varitek Biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Varitek, Garciaparra Inducted Into Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Varitek, Seattle finally agree; MLB averts lawsuit".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 Browne, Ian (January 30, 2009). "Varitek, Red Sox have a deal Captain will return for 12th full season behind plate for Boston". MLB.com. Retrieved February 3, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Baseball Reference". Baseball Reference. Retrieved November 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "2003 Varitek, Jenkins are All-Stars".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Varitek to make $40 million over four years". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 24, 2004. Retrieved February 3, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. [1] Archived May 9, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  20. "Red Sox Charity Wines". Pitching in for Kids. Retrieved November 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Lauber, Scott (January 28, 2009). "Jason Varitek deal still in limbo". Bostonherald.com. Retrieved November 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Boras sees Posada's 4-year, $52m deal as benchmark". Boston Globe. November 5, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Ian Browne / MLB.com. "Sox finalize deal with Varitek". Boston.redsox.mlb.com. Retrieved November 2, 2011. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Varitek returning to Red Sox". CNN. December 2, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Browne, Ian (December 10, 2010). "Varitek officially signs back with Red Sox". MLB.com. Retrieved December 11, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Red Sox name Jason Varitek as special assistant to the GM". The Boston Herald. Retrieved September 27, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Georgia Tech all-time records". Ramblinwreck.cstv.com. October 24, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Jason Varitek player bio from RedSox.com". Boston.redsox.mlb.com. January 1, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Varitek, Garciaparra Inducted Into Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame". Ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Retrieved November 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Georgia Tech Archives". Ramblinwreck.cstv.com. Retrieved November 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "RedSox.com player bio". Boston.redsox.mlb.com. January 1, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Jason vs. Jason: LLB World Series Participants Square Off in MLB World Series
  33. Jason Varitek, Wife Welcome Baby Girl « CBS Boston
  34. "Faith binds many on Sox".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links