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Jason Andrew Varitek (pronounced /ˈværɨtɛk/; born April 11, 1972 in Rochester, Michigan) is an American professional baseball catcher with the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. After being traded as a minor league prospect by the Seattle Mariners, Varitek has played his entire major league career for the Red Sox. A three-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner at catcher,and a Silver Slugger Award winner, Varitek was part of both the 2004 World Series and 2007 World Series Championship teams. In December 2004 he was named the captain of the Red Sox, only their third captain since 1923.[1] He is a switch-hitter.

Varitek is one of only two players in the history of the sport to have played in the World Championship game of the Little League World Series, in the National Championship game of the College World Series, and in the Major League World Series (Ed Vosberg is the other). Varitek stands alone as the only baseball player in history to have played in the three aforementioned World Series along with playing on the Olympic Baseball team and in the World Baseball Classic. His Lake Brantley High School baseball team won the Florida State Championship his senior year in 1990 and was named the number one high school baseball team in the nation by a USA Today poll.[2] Varitek has caught an MLB-record four no-hitters.[3][4]

Little League careerVaritek played in the 1984 Little League World Series, leading his Altamonte Springs team to victory in the United States Championship bracket in a 4-2 victory over Southport, Indiana. His team then fell in the world championship game to the international champion from Seoul, South Korea, by a score of 6-2.[5] Varitek played shortstop, third base, and catcher in his three LLWS games, performing well defensively, but was hitless going 0 for 7 with two walks and a run scored.[6]

[edit] High school and collegeWhile in high school, Varitek was involved in many school activities and a model student. In addition to outstanding academic performance, Jason was Lake Brantley High School's third baseman and relief catcher. LBHS Patriots baseball team is located in Altamonte Springs, FL. Brantley's first line catcher was Jerry Thurston, himself a pro prospect. In 1990, the Patriots won the state championship.[7] He was also a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team and won the Dick Howser Trophy for National Collegiate Player of the Year. He was also named Baseball America's 1993 College Player of the Year; he appeared in 3 games for the U.S. team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Varitek attended Georgia Tech, where he helped lead the Yellow Jackets baseball team to the 1994 College World Series title game, along with teammates Nomar Garciaparra and Jay Payton (they would lose to the University of Oklahoma). He graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in management and is the only Tech baseball player to have his number (33) retired.

[edit] Early professional careerVaritek played five summers in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Hyannis Mets. In 1993, he hit .371 while winning both the league batting championship and MVP. He was drafted 21st overall in the first round by the Minnesota Twins in 1993,[8] but opted to return for his senior year of college. Following graduation, Varitek signed with agent Scott Boras and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 1994 amateur draft, with the 14th pick overall.[9] A pioneer of the loopholes in the draft process, Varitek signed with the St. Paul Saints in the independent Northern League[10] before agreeing to terms with the Mariners, and consequently did not enter the Mariners' minor league system until 1995. When he finally did join the franchise, Varitek was sent to the AA affiliate Port City Roosters where he first met pitcher and longtime teammate Derek Lowe. He was traded with Lowe to the Red Sox during the 1997 season in return for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb, often cited as one of the best trades in the Red Sox's favor in recent history.[11]

[edit] Major league career[edit] 1998 rookie year - 2001Varitek was called up for a single game on September 24, 1997, collecting a single in his only at bat. The next season, Varitek split time with incumbent catcher Scott Hatteberg playing in 86 games.[12] Varitek showed signs of things to come in the 1998 season and with a strong spring training following the season, Varitek ensured himself the starting role. 1999 was a breakout year for the catcher; he played 144 games in that season while hitting for a .269 average, with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs.[12] Varitek went 5-21 with 3 RBI in the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.[12] and 4-20 with 1 RBI in the ALCS against the New York Yankees.[12] Varitek looked forward to building on his success from the year before, but in 2000 he did not show the same potential and had a disappointing offensive output. He hit just .248 with only 10 home runs and 65 RBI.[12] Prior to the 2001 season, Varitek signed a 3-year, $14.9 million contract with the Red Sox, and was off to a hot start before he was sidelined for the season with a broken left elbow after he dove to catch a foul ball on June 7. The play went on to be a top Web Gem for the month of July in 2001. On May 20, 2001, Varitek hit three home runs in one game. Varitek finished the season with a .293 average, 7 home runs, and 25 RBI in 51 games played.[12]

[edit] 2002 and 2003Varitek returned to the Red Sox lineup fulltime in the 2002 season. The return did not go smoothly, however, as Varitek struggled to find himself at the plate. Despite not reaching his full offensive potential,[12] pitchers and coaches alike began to notice how much Varitek's preparation and knowledge of the game was helping the pitchers. His study habits and extra hours of work with pitchers would soon become his defining attribute. Varitek and the Red Sox entered the 2003 season with a renewed fire to reach the playoffs after missing in the previous three years. Varitek instantly became a leader in the clubhouse which management tried to portray as working class, featuring new faces such as Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, and Todd Walker along with original players Trot Nixon and Lou Merloni. 2003 was Varitek's best year to date and earned his first All-Star selection after the fans voted him on with the All-Star Final Vote. He was hitting .296 with 15 HRs and 51 RBIs[13] going into the all-star break and finished the season off with a solid .273 average, 25 HRs and 85 RBIs,[12] all career highs. The Red Sox earned a Wild Card berth and their first playoff appearance since 1999.

[edit] 2004 and the World SeriesIn 2004, Varitek compiled a career-high .296 batting average with 18 home runs and 73 RBI. During a nationally televised game on July 24, 2004, Varitek shoved his glove into the face of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez after Rodriguez was hit by a pitch, causing a bench-clearing brawl. Though he was ejected (along with Rodriguez) from the game following the incident, the moment sparked Boston to an 11-10 come-from-behind victory. It is also sometimes regarded as the turning point in the Red Sox season, as they posted MLB's best record after the melee. The Red Sox culminated the season with their first World Series championship in 86 years, after being the first team to overcome a three games to none deficit in the ALCS. At the end of the year, Varitek became a free agent and signed a 4-year, $40-million contract with the Red Sox.[14]

[edit] Free agency and promotion to CaptainAfter Varitek's re-signing, the Red Sox appointed him to be the third team captain since 1923, after Carl Yastrzemski (1969-1983) and Jim Rice (1986-1989).[14] He is currently one of the three captains in Major League Baseball. Derek Jeter of the NY Yankees, and Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox are the others.

In 2005, Varitek won his first Gold Glove Award, his first Silver Slugger, and his second All-Star selection.

In 2006, Varitek represented the United States in the World Baseball Classic. He made the most of his playing time, hitting a grand slam against Team Canada allowing Team USA to narrow an 8–2 lead down to 8–6. Team Canada, however, kept the lead in the upset victory.

On July 18, 2006, Varitek played his 991st game at catcher for the Boston Red Sox, breaking Carlton Fisk's club record. That game was a home game vs. Kansas City, during which Varitek's achievement was recognized before the bottom of the 5th inning (after the game was official and couldn't be cancelled due to weather). Varitek received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at Fenway Park for a few moments before play resumed. On July 31, 2006, Varitek was injured rounding the bases in a 9–8 victory over the Cleveland Indians (his 1000th career game as catcher), but said he believed the initial injury to the knee occurred while he was blocking home plate to make the tag against the Angels Mike Napoli on July 29, 2006. He had surgery on August 3, 2006 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. Varitek returned to the Red Sox lineup on September 4, following a short rehabilitation assignment in Pawtucket.

On September 19, 2006, Varitek was honored during a pre-game ceremony as the first Red Sox catcher to catch 1,000 games. He was presented with a special award by Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, who held the Boston club record with 990 career games caught before Varitek surpassed it. Varitek caught his 1000th game on July 31 and by the evening of the ceremony had appeared in 1,009 games behind the plate. That same night, Varitek also received the 2006 Red Sox Heart and Hustle Award from the local chapter of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, which is presented to a player exemplifying the values, tradition, and spirit of the game of baseball.

Varitek at bat in 2008.In 2007, Varitek and the Red Sox returned to the World Series, winning for the second time in four years. During the season, Varitek recorded his 1000th career hit. On May 19, 2008, he caught Jon Lester's no-hitter, giving him a Major League record of having caught four separate no-hitters in his career.

In honor of being captain, Varitek released Captain Cabernet, a charity wine with proceeds benefiting Pitching In For Kids and Children's Hospital Boston.[15][16]

At the end of the 2008 season, Varitek opted for free agency, rejecting arbitration that would give him a salary close to the $10 million he made in 2008. [17] Reports in the Boston Globe suggested that his agent, Scott Boras, was using New York Yankee catcher Jorge Posada's four-year, $52.4 million deal as a benchmark for negotiations.[18] On February 6, 2009, Varitek signed a new one-year deal with the Red Sox worth $5 million with a $5 million club option, or a $3 million player option, for 2010.[11][19] During the 2009 season, Varitek's numbers were similar to his dismal 2008 season, with slightly more home runs (14), doubles (24) and runs batted in (51), and a higher slugging percentage (.390) despite a lower batting average (.209) and fewer at bats (425). He eventually became the backup catcher when the Red Sox acquired All-Star Victor Martinez on the July 31st trade deadline.

On Dec 2nd, 2010, Sports Illustrated, on its website SI.com, reported that Jason Varitek signed a one-year, two-million dollar deal to stay with the Boston Red Sox for the 2011 season.[20] The deal was finalized on December 10.[21] With the addition of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Varitek has been coming on and off the bench during the 2011 season.

Personal lifeVaritek married Karen Mullinax in 1996.[28] They have three daughters. The couple filed for divorce on July 28, 2008. Varitek's brother Justin Varitek is a member of the Rollins College baseball team coaching staff.[29]

On April 9, 2011, Varitek proposed to Catherine Panagiotopoulos at Strega Waterfront in Boston.[30]

Most notably, Varitek is a returning guest speaker, along with teammate Dustin Pedroia, at Massachusetts based baseball company RBI Academy for teens and preteens that wish to fulfill careers as baseball players.

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Red Sox milestones and achievements [26]Became 26th player to hit 100 home runs for club on April 14, 2005

Third Red Sox catcher to win a Gold Glove (Carlton Fisk and Tony Pena)

First Red Sox at any position to win Gold Glove since Tony Pena in 1991

Was on the 2004 World Series team, the first Red Sox team to win the championship in 86 years

Over 1,000 games caught - most in 106-year Red Sox history - breaking Carlton Fisk's club record of 990 on July 18, 2006 vs. Kansas City

Has caught a Major League record four official no-hitters

Hideo Nomo: April 4, 2001 vs Baltimore

Derek Lowe: April 27, 2002 vs Tampa Bay

Clay Buchholz: September 1, 2007 vs Baltimore (Clay's No-Hitter was his second Major League start)

Jon Lester: May 19, 2008 vs Kansas City

Does not count unofficial five-inning, rain-shortened no-hitter by Devern Hansack in 2006.[3]

Most postseason home runs for a catcher (11).

Only one of six catchers to have at least two triples in the playoffs. (2).

Has played in more postseason games than any other Red Sox player in team history.

Most opening-day starts for a Red Sox catcher.

Notable firstsIn the 2004 World Series, Varitek batted against the St. Louis Cardinals' Jason Marquis, the first time two former Little League World Series participants have faced each other in the Major League Baseball World Series. Varitek had played for Altamonte Springs, Florida in 1984.

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Statistics and awards

Jason Varitek (Updated as of June 30, 2011) [22]

Games AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA

Career 1516 4994 650 1287 301 13 187 738 25 .258

[edit] Georgia Tech records [23]Most career games played (253)

Most career runs scored (261)

Most career base hits (351)

Most career doubles (82)

[edit] College awards and achievementsHis number 33 is only the second number ever retired by Georgia Tech; the first was #44, worn by Coach Jim Luck

Baseball America's 1993 player of the year

Named by Baseball America to "All-Time College All-Star Team"[24]

1994 Golden Spikes Award

1994 Rotary Smith Award

1994 Dick Howser Trophy

Three time consensus All-American (1992, '93, '94) [9]

Inducted into Georgia Tech Hall of Fame[25]

1994 College World Series runner-up

1993 Wampum Willy Award

[edit] MLB careerThree time All-Star (2003, 2005 and 2008), one time starter (2005)

2005 Silver Slugger Award winner

2005 Gold Glove winner

2006 Heart and Hustle Award

Has caught four no hitters, an MLB record.

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