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Recently, Jason Varitek held a press conference to announce his retirement from baseball. It was the final chapter in a stellar career, which was marked with outstanding team and individual successes.
Whenever a noteworthy player retires, fans and scribes feel compelled to put the career in some sort of historical perspective. Often, that analysis is clouded by emotion.
The retirement of Varitek is no different. No sooner had the former captain waved his final goodbye when people were asking whether his was a Hall of Fame career. It was not. It was a good and sometimes great career worthy of compliments and praise, but it was not worthy of the Hall of Fame.
The 3-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner has been an indispensable asset to the Boston Red Sox. He spent 15 years in the majors, all with Boston. He is at the top of an extensive list of achievements for the Red Sox. He has caught the most games in Red Sox history, and is the ninth on the all-time list of games played. He leads all Red Sox catchers in runs, home runs, and at-bats. He was a loyal and dedicated player who was deeply respected by his teammates. Varitek more than deserved to wear the “C” on his jersey.
His game preparation was second to none and by all accounts he always “called a good game.” He led his team to two World Series Championships (2004 and 2007) and was the central figure in one of the most memorable moments in the Red Sox Yankee rivalry (sorry about your face A-Rod). In his emotional statement announcing his retirement, Varitek showed just how much his team meant to him. “My teammates, are what I’m going to miss most. The hardest thing to do is to walk away from your teammates and what they’ve meant to you over the years” said Varitek.
What is clear from his list of achievements and his unyielding loyalty is that while he does not belong in THE Hale of Fame, Varitek belongs in A Hall of Fame: The Red Sox Hall of Fame. With a .256 career batting average and 193 home runs, his offensive numbers do not compare to the likes of Baseball Hall of Famers Yogi Berra (.285, 358), Johnny Bench (.267, 389) and Mickey Cochrane (.320, 119).
Tek was a good catcher, but never a great one. As with many players, Varitek hung around too long and his skills deteriorated. He clung too long to the game and team he loved.
While he does not exactly measure up to the catchers of the Hall of Fame, he has certainly earned his spot in the Red Sox Hall of Fame. He has served his team well and maintained a high level of play for a long time. He is a great player who will certainty be missed on the field.