The Red Sox acquired Varitek and Derek Lowe in a lopsided trade with Seattle for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997. The catcher spent the next 14 seasons helping turn the Sox from a seemingly cursed franchise that tortured its fans by choking in big moments to one of the dominant teams of this century.
"I'm probably a little biased," ace pitcher Josh Beckett said. "I'm sure there's guys on other teams who have guys on their teams who they say the same thing about. Even watching him from afar, you could see other guys on other teams have that respect for Jason and he deserved it."
And his fingerprints were everywhere.
He was the welcoming confidante when a teammate needed advice, the stern voice of reason when a pitcher wanted to shake him off in a big spot and the aggressive bodyguard when an opponent dared challenge them.
The moment everyone will remember came in 2004 against the hated Yankees, when Alex Rodriguez chafed after being hit by a pitch from Bronson Arroyo. As Rodriguez cursed at Arroyo, Varitek shoved his mitt into A-Rod's face, sparking a bench-clearing brawl.
"I was just being a teammate," he said.
During his speech, Varitek thanked a long list of people who helped him along the way, from his Little League coaches to the baby sitters who watched his three daughters, his family, the clubhouse staff and of course, bullpen coach Gary Tuck.