Huh. The reason I haven’t posted at all this season so far is because I was bummed out when this entry got eaten by the Internet, but it turns out, the entire draft saved, it just failed to post. So first I’m going to post the entry I meant to post about half a year ago, and then I’m going to post today’s entry.
Most of the time, I try to keep this blog team-neutral. I suppose I might cover the AL East a little bit more because that’s what I pay the most attention to, but I rarely go full-fan.
This is not going to be one of those blogs.
The year was 1998, and I was nine years old and didn’t really follow baseball that closely, though I was already a Red Sox fan (born into it, as they say). The Sox had an up-and-coming star in 1997 AL Rookie of the Year Nomar Garciaparra and an aging, soon to be washed-up star in 1995 MVP Mo Vaughn. These were the names I knew, though some of the other players’ names were vaguely in my mind if they sounded interesting. Now, my father often got tickets to Yankee-Red Sox games at Yankee Stadium (it made the most sense, us living in New Jersey), but because he had young, school-age children, he generally tried to get tickets for weekend games, but for some strange reason, we were at the Stadium on a Tuesday night in September, watching the dominant Yankees taking on a Red Sox team that was 20 games back in the division, but actually had a better record than either of the other two division leaders. And there was a player there who I’d never heard of, and my father didn’t seem to know the name either, but it sounded kind of cool to me, and that player’s name was Jason Varitek. He wasn’t really well-known because he was still a rookie. And in his first at-bat, he hit a home run, and I instantly decided that I liked him, and then his second time up, he hit another home run, and that made him my new favorite player. I actually, looking back on this memory, wasn’t completely sure if it had actually happened; I seem to remember looking through old game logs–everything from 1998 and 1999–on baseballreference.com some time last year and finding no games that could possibly have matched the game in my memory, but when I heard that he might be retiring, I looked again and sure enough, there was a game that matched–an evening game, at Yankee Stadium, early in Jason’s career, in which he hit two home runs. Perhaps I’d ruled it out because it was in September and I didn’t think we would’ve been at a weekday evening game after the school year had started. But there it is, September 15, 1998, the first multi-home run game of Varitek’s career, and I’m absolutely certain that I was there. Since then, he’s become a consummate clubhouse leader, catching an MLB-record 4 no-hitters and countless near-misses, and a general class act. You’ll be missed, Tek.