Jason Varitek is officially announcing his retirement Thursday, which means both of the longest tenured Red Sox have decided to hang 'em up in a span of less than two weeks. I feel similarly about Varitek as I do about Wakefield, obviously I can't try to sum up everything he did in a Boston uniform. So I will just say this: Varitek is the greatest player in Major League history at catching no hitters. He is the only one ever to do it FOUR times; and he came within a single out of five. Obviously there is a significant amount of luck/chance involved in this, but it's definitely not a coincidence either.
I remember exactly where I was on all 5 occasions. Saturday, April 27, 2002, Derek Lowe beat Tampa 10-0, throwing the first no-hitter at Fenway park in 37 years. I watched the game while working at Boston Beer Works by North Station. Thursday, June 7, 2007 Curt Schilling beat Oakland 1-0, giving up just one hit to the A's Shannon Stewart with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. My buddy and I were on day trip to the Vineyard, and watched the game at The Sandbar in Oak Bluffs. Later that season, on Saturday, September 1, 2007, Clay Buchholz threw a no-no vs Baltimore in just his second Major League start ever. Again I was working at a bar (but still watching), this time at Foundation Lounge in Kenmore Square.
Now here's the big reason for why I chose this topic specifically: For both the first and last no-hitters that Jason Varitek ever caught, I WAS THERE. In the ballpark. I want so badly to take a picture of the ticket stubs and post it, unfortunately they are in a scrap book somewhere at my parents' house, so you're just going to have to take my word for it. Wednesday, April 4, 2001, Hideo Nomo no-hit the Orioles at Camden Yards. Because of a rain out the day before it was just the second game of the season. I was living in Richmond, VA, and some fraternity brothers and I decided to make the drive up to Baltimore for the game that night. And finally, Monday, May 19, 2008 Jon Lester tossed a no-hitter vs Kansas City, beating the Royals 7-0. My boss from Foundation Lounge took us all to Fenway that night for a staff outing. We sat in the now defunct Tony Conigliaro bleacher section up high in right field, and it was an incredibly cold and windy night for mid-May.
So there you have it. Jason Varitek was behind the plate each and every time.