Catcher and captain Jason Varitek has announced his retirement, and will do so officially in a press conference on Thursday. His stellar career has come to an end, but it began in one of the most lopsided trades ever. In 1997, the Georgia Tech product came to the Boston Red Sox with starting pitcher Derick Lowe for relief pitcher Heathcliff Slocumb. During his tenure with the Mariners, Slocumb went 13-9 with a 4.97 ERA and 13 saves in less than two total seasons. He ended his career only three years after the trade with the San Diego Padres, while Varitek and Lowe would go on to lead the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2004, their first since 1918. It's fair to say that the Red Sox got a little bit more value out of the trade.
Varitek was the captain of that magical team (aka the "idiots") that broke the infamous "Curse of the Bambino" in 2004, and was an integral part of the 2007 World Series Champion team as well. Varitek flashed his "tools of ignorance" for 15 major league seasons, all with the Boston Red Sox. He was a three-time all-star and a gold glove winner in 2005. He was known more for his big bat, finishing with a career total 193 home runs and 757 RBI.
While Red Sox Nation was privileged enough to see the switch-hitter's remarkable career, the world was no stranger to Jason Varitek either. He caught for the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, batting .286 for the fourth place American team. Varitek would make an appearance in international competition again, playing a key roll on the 2006 U.S. World Baseball Classic team, punctuated by a grand slam against Team Canada.
Jason Varitek's plaque may not grace the halls of Cooperstown, but he was one of baseball's best catchers in the 2000's. Red Sox Nation should be forever grateful and so should baseball fans everywhere.
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