An all-time fan favorite, Jason Varitek will be enshrined in the Red Sox Hall of Fame later this year.
A three time All-Star, Gold Glove winner, Silver Slugger winner, and two-time World Series Champion, Jason Varitek is one of the most beloved Boston Red Sox players of the last century. After spending his entire fifteen year career behind the plate for the Red Sox, seven of them as captain, Varitek will enter the Red Sox Hall of Fame this summer, and be remembered as an all-time fan favorite.
Here are his top seven moments as a member of Red Sox Nation:
Number Seven: Varitek wins game with walk-off homer
As a member of the generation that grew up watching Varitek play for the Red Sox, I can say that perhaps his most striking skill was his ability to hit from both sides of the plate. While not necessarily a dominating hitter, Varitek, as we will see, was a clutch hitter.
On May 5, 2005, Varitek hit a two-run walk-off home run off the Oakland Athletics’ Octavio Dotel to win the game for the Red Sox. Varitek would finish the 2005 season with a .281 batting average, 22 home runs, 132 hits, and 132 hits, earning him an All-Star selection and his only Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.
Number Six: First career home run
On May 10, 1998, Varitek hit his first career home run off Jose Rosado of the Kansas City Royals. It would be the first of many for Varitek, who retired in 2011 with 193 home runs, 1307 hits, 757 RBIs, and a career batting average of .256.
Number Five: Varitek drives in two with a triple in Game 2 of the 2004 World Series
After a miracle series victory against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox squared off against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. In Game 2 of the series, Varitek hit a bases clearing triple off Matt Morris to drive in two runs.
The Red Sox, with Curt Schilling on the mound, would go on the win the game 6-2. They would then win the next two games against the Cardinals, completing the sweep, and winning their first World Series in 86 years.
Number Four: Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series
After winning Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 American League Championship Series in extra-innings, the Red Sox got to work early in the fourth inning to avoid doing so for a third time. Varitek got the ball rolling, by launching an RBI single up the middle to drive in Kevin Millar for the first run of the inning.
The Red Sox would go on to score three more runs in the fourth inning, and win the game 4-2. They would then go on to complete the greatest comeback in baseball history, by winning Game 7 and earning a trip to the World Series.
Number Three: Varitek blocks home plate
Varitek’s greatest contribution to the Red Sox was his ability behind the plate. In Game 3 of the 2003 American League Division Series, the Red Sox squared off against the Oakland Athletics, and his defensive abilities were put on displayed when he blocked Eric Byrnes from scoring a run.
For me, this moment perfectly captures Varitek’s grit and hustle behind the plate. Perhaps, I have placed this play so high because I can vividly remember cutting out a picture of this moment from The Boston Globe, and taping it on the wall in my bedroom. Either way, it demonstrates why Varitek will be forever loved in the city of Boston.
Number Two: Four home runs in a row
In past top-seven lists, I have included back-to-back-to-back home runs. Now, we will take a look at a rare feat: back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs. On April 22, 2007, the Red Sox squared off against the New York Yankees, and starting pitcher Chase Wright. The Red Sox were down 3-0, when Manny Ramirez got the ball rolling, by hitting a solo shot. Then J.D. Drew did the same. And then Mike Lowell. And then, finally, Varitek came in to make it four in a row, giving the Red Sox the lead in an efficient fashion.
Number One: Varitek vs A-Rod
If you didn’t guess that this would be the number one moment, then you clearly need to brush up on your Red Sox History. On July 24, 2004, the Red Sox squared off against the New York Yankees, and tension was high. Bronson Arroyo hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch, causing A-Rod to have a few choice words for the pitcher. Then Jason Varitek, as all great catchers do, came to the defense of his pitcher, and after A-Rod egged him on, punched him in the face with his glove, causing the benches to clear.
The confrontation marked one of the most memorable chapters in the Red Sox – Yankee rivalry, and served as a precursor to their confrontation later that year, in the American League Championship Series.