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Archive for the ‘Jason Varitek’ Category

Varitek: All Time Leader in Respect

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 2, 2012

Jason Varitek hung it up 16 days after Tim Wakefield.  The only team that would want this pair was no longer interested in either player. 

After 3 years of not hitting in the clutch and not throwing runners out, Tek was toast.

I will never forget how Matt Garza threw it by the old catcher in game 3 of the 2008 ALCS.  The Spitting Man struck out Tek with one down and runners on 2nd and 3rd.  Jason was by then either too banged up or too weathered to have sufficient bat speed any longer.  Those of us present at Fenway saw it so, so clearly.

One of my friends can cite the day, dates, opponents and sequence of events for every game in which ‘Tek came up big.  Guys like Mark Kantor of S.A.B.R.  The details are burned into their memories.

I’ll remember ‘Tek for select accomplishments.

Like for surpassing Ray Schalk’s all time record for catching the most no-hitters by different pitchers. Tek’s record is four – Lowe, Nomo, Lester & Buchholz.    He did not secure a fifth one only because Curt Schilling shook off ‘Tek with two out in the bottom of the 9th on June 7, 2007.  After the shake, the A’s Shannon Stewart singled to right.  Then Mark Ellis popped up to make the 27th & final out.  Sox win 1-0 on a 1-hitter.

Had he called a 5th no-no from a 5th pitcher, a HOF argument would have gained momentum.

I’ll remember Tek for being a team player on the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy cable show, a special Red Sox edition episode.  With pregnant ex-wife Karen skooched from the room, Tek quietly allowed himself to be waxed, groomed and dressed by the Fab Five as Carson drooled over Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar pronounced himself a big gay dude after the team transformation was complete.

I’ll remember standing on the 2nd floor walkway in right field at Fenway, the one between Bleacher 43 and Grandstand 1, on July 24, 2004, watching Sox and Yankee relievers jump over the bullpen wall and run to the diamond where Tek was giving A-Rod a leather facial and a wrestling move.

I’ll remember the May, 1995 episode of Talking Baseball with Ed Randall in which 23-year old, buzz-cut, jowly cheeked Tek explained that he still refused to sign with the Mariners after the June ’94 Draft because they offered a bonus that was $800,000 less than what his draft peers were offered.  He explained that he was staying strong, working out and not worrying about anything that was beyond his control.  (See it now on streaming Netflix.)

I’ll remember Tek leaping into Papelbon’s arms after catching swinging strike 3 for the last out of the 2007 World Series.

I’ll remember Tek for not drawing criticism in his 15 Boston playing years.  Fans loved him and felt nothing but sorrow when his skills declined.  Ambush-prone radio talk show hosts let him be because they couldn’t find a character flaw.  Team owners gave Tek a measure of respect until the end, overpaying him in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and never embarrassing him through his last unsuccessful contract negotiation.

He was selfless.  He was deep in his preparation and in his character.

He is the all time leader in Sox games caught and respect earned.

Thanks for staying in the family, Tek.

Farewell  — for now, Jason.

Go Sox.

 

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Francona & Varitek have Golden Spikes

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 18, 2009

1980 Golden Spikes Winner in his '78 Goldpanners uni.
 

 

 

 

 

1980 Golden Spikes Winner in his '78 Goldpanners uni.

One of the best Red Sox trivia stumpers I know goes like this:  Who are the five current Red Sox that won the Golden Spikes Award in college ?  
 
The Golden Spikes is like the Naismith Award, going to the best college player in the nation.
 
Answer:  J.D. Drew, Mark Kotsay, Jason Varitek, Dave Magadan and Terry Francona.
 
Surprised about Francona ?  The injury prone manager batted .401 in 1980, was College World Series MVP, lead his team to the National Title, and left the University of Arizona in the Top 8 all time in RBI, Hits, Extra Base Hits, and Total Bases among all Wildcat players.
 
His bench coach, Brad Mills, wasn’t half bad either, with a .515 career OBP, third on the Cats’ all time list.
 
Francona batted .274 with just 10 HR’s in 16 gimpy MLB seasons, but his 900 – 525 WL record as Sox Manager burnishes his image.
 
J.D.  Drew starred at Florida State University (1997), and .now sports a career .282 BA w 202 HR’s in 12 (part time) MLB seasons —  very respectable.
 
Mark Kotsay won when at Cal State Fulleron (1995).  His career MLB .282 BA and 1542 Hits in 13 campaigns is a workmanlike line.
 
Sox Batting Coach, Dave Magadan, University of Alabama (1983), had an MLB career .288 BA and squeezed out 1197 hits over 16 seasons.  Certainly qualifies him to teach.
 
Jason Varitek won when at Georgia Tech (1994).  Considered altogether, the two World Championships, .261 BA and 174 HR’s over 13 years are very respectable.  Add in the 4 no-hitters he has called with 4 different pitchers, and you understand why he has earned a special place in the hearts of baseball fans, and baseball history.
 
These five Sox pretty well represent all GS winner when it comes to position players.  Plenty of long MLB careers among the winners, but no MVP’s or Batting Champs. And, of course, no Hall of Famers.
The Sox Golden Spikers beat out some fine competitors in college, including  Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Walker, Todd Helton, Troy Glaus and Lance Berkman, to name a few.
 
Since the award’s inception in 1978, a lot of matriculated MLB superstars were not selected — Barry Bonds (Az. State), Roger Clemens (Texas), Ryan Howard (Mo. St.), Jeff Bagwell (Hartford), Frank Thomas (Auburn), Jason Giambi (Cal-Longbeach), Dustin Pedroia (Az. State), Tony Gwynn (San Diego St.), Kirby Puckett (Bradley), and Randy Johnson (USC).
The award has produced a steady supply of starting pitchers like Ben McDonald, Alex Fernandez, Jim Abbott, Darren Dreifort, Jason Jennings, Mark Prior, Jered Weaver…..and Tim Lincecum.
 
++++++++++++++++
 
32 winners.  20 position players.  12 pitchers.
 All but 4 of the 32 players reached the majors.
 Nice players, yes. 
 It’s a roster of talent, but the big guns signs out of high school. 
College has not been, since the Class of 1978 at least, a path to the Hall Of Fame.
But that could change.
Mark Prior and Tim Lincecum are the only Golden Spikes winners who pitched themselves to the MLB All Star game.   The similarity should end there. Young Lincecum projects to have a long and fruitful career, unlike the injury prone Cub, who hung it up after just 5 seasons.

++++++++++

 At the All Star Break, USA Baseball’s Executive Director Paul Seiler announced that the 2009 Golden Spikes Award winner is Stephen Strasberg of San Diego State.  He had a 13-1 WL record this year, with a 1.32 ERA, and 195 K’s in 109 IP. 
To learn more about the award and its history, go to www.goldenspikesaward.com

+++++++

A herd of future pro’s go for the sheepskin at Arizona State, which alone has sent 91 players to the major leagues since 1961, including the player-of-the-century (in his own mind) Reggie Jackson (’66), the durable Gary Gentry & Larry Gura (’67), ’86 BoSox keystoner Marty Barrett, the loveable ’69 Met Duffy Dyer, and the first Golden Spikes winner ever, Bob Horner.  Just part of what makes Arizona a FANTASTIC Baseball state.

 

Baby Tek

Young Tek won The Spikes at Tech in '94.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Jason Varitek, RED SOX, Terry Francona | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »