Saturday, July 21, 2012
Gordon Edes pays tribute to Tek
ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes voices the video essay above, which originally ran on March 1, when Jason Varitek announced his retirement at spring training. With the Sox set to honor Varitek with a "Thanks, Tek Day" tonight at Fenway Park, we're rolling it back out in homage of Boston's longtime captain. Here's the text of Gordon's recut essay:
The catcher, the great New Yorker essayist Roger Angell once wrote, "has more equipment and more attributes than players at the other positions. He must be large, brave, intelligent, alert, stolid, foresighted, resilient, fatherly, quick, efficient, intuitive, and impregnable."
For 14 seasons, Jason Varitek was all of these things and more for the Boston Red Sox. He was a rock behind the plate, a mentor and muse to Red Sox pitchers, an inspiration to teammates for his willingness to play through injuries, many of which were never mentioned outside the trainers’ room.
Just as Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson helped to define the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry for one generation of baseball fans, so, too, did Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada for this one. An enduring image of the 2004 season, the year the Red Sox finally won a World Series after 86 years, is Jason Varitek thrusting his oversized catcher’s mitt into the face of Alex Rodriguez.
No Red Sox catcher played in more games than the switch-hitting Varitek. No Red Sox catcher had more hits, more home runs, more RBIs, more runs than Varitek.
But the numbers on his baseball card can never define the value of Varitek to the Red Sox. His own performance, especially at the plate, he always said, was secondary to what he was able to do for his pitching staff.
His game preparation was second to none, a large binder on his lap before every game, page after page of data on that night’s opponent. He caught four no-hitters, more than any other catcher in history. He worked seamlessly with such great pitchers as Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett, all of whom swore by him. He helped to nurture young pitchers, too, like Derek Lowe and Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
It was an honor, David Ortiz said, to be his teammate.