Another stalwart member of the Red Sox has hung them up – this time the great Jason Varitek. There was always so much to like with Varitek. He was the backbone of the team for so many years. Varitek’s numbers weren’t HOF worthy (though he will be in the Red Sox HOF), but he had intangibles in spades. Club record 1488 games behind the plate with the Sox. He was widely regarded as one of the best receivers in the game, and pitchers loved how he called games (Beckett, it seemed at times, could hardly pitch effectively to other catchers). Three All-Star appearances, 2 WS wins, and the epic and season changing mitt to A-Rod’s face that permanently altered the dynamics of that rivalry.
The enduring image of Tek will, I think, be him mashing A-Rod in the face with his mitt. Bronson Arroyo hit A-Rod with a pitch and A-Rod took his sweet time taking his base. Arroyo didn’t like it and started barking and A-Rod replied in kind. Some tellings of the story have it that Varitek not only told A-Rod to cool it, but remarked that the hit was unintentional “since we don’t give bags to guys with as crappy an average as you have.” Whatever Varitek said, A-Rod decided he wanted some and Varitek gave it to him.