Jason Varitek Video: Watch Red Sox Legend Say Goodbye to Baseball

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterMarch 1, 2012

For the first time in well over a decade, Jason Varitek will not be seen behind the plate for the Boston Red Sox this season. His playing days are over.

As many people expected he would, Varitek decided this week to retire. He made if official in an emotional ceremony at the Red Sox's spring training home in Fort Myers.

Varitek's contract with the Red Sox expired at the end of the season. He could have chosen to pursue another opportunity elsewhere, but Red Sox Nation will be pleased to hear that the best thing for him was to retire as a member of the same organization he had been a part of for 15 seasons.

Via The Boston Globe:

After months of deliberating what to do, I've decided that it's best for me and family that I retire, that I retire a Red Sock, Varitek said. My decision to retire wasn't one that I took lightly in any sense of the word, nor did I want to do it more than once. This has probably been the most difficult decision I had to make in my career. But the opportunity to start and finish my major league career in one place is why I'm standing here today.

Being a part of the Red Sox organization of the past [15] years is something I will always cherish, he said. I thank all of you for giving me this opportunity, because it's taken all of you to make this happen.

Take it from this Red Sox fan that this is a sad occasion. It would be a stretch to say that Varitek is or ever was a superstar in the greater landscape of Major League Baseball.

But to Sox fans, Varitek is nothing short of a legend.

Varitek's legend status has very little to do with numbers, though he does boast some pretty good ones next to his name. He caught more games than any catcher in Red Sox history, and he's the only catcher in the history of the game to catch four no-hitters, each by a different pitcher.

What really matters is that Varitek was a rock for the Red Sox, starting when he took over as the team's everyday catcher in 1999 all the way up until his retirement. By the time the team officially labeled him as the team captain after the 2004 season, it was long overdue.

Varitek had been the heart and soul of the team for several years at that point.

The iconic moment of Varitek's career will forever be when he got into a scuffle with Alex Rodriguez in 2004. That was Varitek at his worst, but it was also him at his best. That incident sent a message to all who would listen that Varitek was not one to be messed with. The Red Sox rallied around him that day, and it resulted in one of the most improbable wins in the team's history. 

A couple months later, they won the World Series. They couldn't have done it without Varitek's production in the American League Championship series against the Yankees—he hit .321 with two homers and seven RBI.

As a hitter, Varitek started to decline after that 2004 season. By the time the Red Sox won their second World Series, he was much less of an offensive threat. Nevertheless, they needed him for that World Series run just as much as they needed him for their run in 2004.

Though Varitek and the Sox enjoyed a great partnership, the timing is definitely right for it to end. Varitek is a fraction of the player he once was, and in the last three seasons he's been more of a figurehead than an actual player. If that's what his lot in life has become, there's no need for him to keep playing.

My guess is that we haven't seen the last of Varitek in a baseball uniform. He's perfectly cut out to be a coach, or perhaps even a manager some day.

Time will tell.

For now, all that matters is that the Red Sox organization is waving goodbye to one of the most important players in the team's history, not to mention one of the most beloved players Red Sox Nation has ever known.

Fare thee well, 'Tek. Thanks for everything.


Follow zachrymer on Twitter