During his 15-year career with the Red Sox, The Captain was a mainstay in the trainer's room, typically emerging with ice packs draped over his muscles. But life as a retiree isn't as grueling for the ex-catcher.
"My body feels a little better right now," Varitek joked. "My feet tend to give me the worst issues of anything, but my knees feel awfully good."
He was certainly healthy enough to partake in "Thanks, Tek Day," where the organization honored Varitek for his service. The Red Sox started the ceremony by presenting him with two seats from Fenway Park and the home plate from his final game.
Shortly thereafter, the team displayed a video montage of Varitek's career highlights. The images included the four no-hitters that Varitek snagged, his immediate reactions after winning the 2004 and 2007 World Series championships and his notorious slugfest with Alex Rodriguez.
With John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner on hand, ownership recognized Varitek's contributions by presenting him with a red, Ford F-150 truck. By the end of the fesitivities, Varitek literally rode out into the sunset in his new vehicle.
"I'm really trying to absorb what just happened," Varitek said. "I think I spent a lot of time out there trying to absorb but I don't think I fully can because on my mind is, you're there, they're doing this for you and I in turn want to say thank you."
"How do you say thank you for 15 years? How do you say thank you to a fan base that has been nothing but support, and a fan base that I fit with my style of play and what they demanded? To say thank you for that. It was bothering me for quite a while. I had a lot of anxiety and a lot of emotions going into today."
Flanked by his three daughters and wife, Varitek tried to surprise everyone with his ceremonial first pitch. With Tim Wakefield — who also retired this offseason — as the catcher, Varitek attempted to float over a knuckleball.
It wound up bouncing before reaching home plate. Afterward, it was Varitek's lone regret from the pregame festivities.
"Should have warmed up," Varitek joked. "I used to mess around and throw it days Wake would pitch. Salty and I would finish with, like, 10-15 knuckleballs. I have the worst knuckleball in baseball. Once in a blue moon I'd throw a good one. But it would be maybe one out of a hundred. I saw the movie Knuckleball and it didn't help me."
Even in retirement, Varitek monitors the Red Sox. In the moments before Cody Ross' walk-off, three-run home run on Friday night, he was at the edge of his seat in front of the television.
"I had the girls all in rally caps, hats backwards and inside out going into the ninth inning, and it worked," Varitek said. "That's the first time I've been able to do stuff like that with my kids. Yeah, I'm a fan."
For The Captain, it's a different view of the game. But it's one that he's enjoying.
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