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Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek Define an Era for Boston Red Sox Fans

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Tim Wakefield #49 of the Boston Red Sox reacts with teammate Jason Varitek #33 of the Boston Red Sox after earning his 200th win after a game with the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on September 13, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Saul WisniaGuest ColumnistNovember 17, 2016

Clearing snow off my windshield in the shadow of Fenway Park, I listened to Jason Varitek’s retirement speech on the cranked-up car radio. Tek’s voice cracked at the mention of his daughters and teammates, and I felt something crack inside me as well.

At the time, I thought it was just sadness over a second two-time Red Sox champion hanging up his spikes in as many weeks. In retrospect, I realized it was something far more meaningful.

6 Jul 1996:  Pitcher Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox pitches a ball during the Red Sox 4-3 win over the  Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Most people hoped their trips to Fenway coincided with a Pedro Martinez or Jon Lester start, and while I certainly enjoyed watching these men at work, I also loved seeing Wake take the hill. You never knew what you were going to get—nor did the batters—but his efforts were a lesson in determination.

Varitek was also a pleasure to observe, as much for his take-charge attitude behind the plate as for his clutch hitting.

Long before most people took notice of his growing victory total, I began telling my kids and anybody else who would listen that Wakefield had a chance to win more games than any other Red Sox pitcher. After all, I implored, fellow knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm had lobbed them up until he was nearly 50.

I also had high hopes for Varitek managing to scrape together enough homers and All-Star selections to merit Hall of Fame consideration.

Neither of them quite reached these goals, but even if they don't make it to Cooperstown, they both hold a special place on my list of all-time favorite Red Sox.

Just as Yaz defined my youth and Clemens my early adulthood, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield carried me through to the cusp of middle age. I have far less hair and a few more pounds than in '97, but I have plenty of great memories.

Thanks for the ride.

Saul Wisnia lives less than 7 miles from Fenway Park and works 300 yards from Yawkey Way. His latest book, Fenway Park: The Centennial, is available here and his Red Sox reflections can be found at You can reach him at or #saulwizz.

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