Captain.jpgThe service clubs of Greater Haverhill: Key Club, Exchange Club, Pentucket & Haverhill Kiwanis Clubs had their annual dinner of the holiday season on Thursday at DiBurro’s of Ward Hill, sponsored by northshore car czars Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion. Businesspeople and Movers and Shakers of the Merrimack Valley came out for the holiday business luncheon and were treated to a delightful speech by Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, followed by a Question and Answer session, all benefiting area children’s sports programs.

Sponsors Gary, Mark and Gavin Jaffarian are well-known north of Boston for their many years of philanthropy benefiting various children’s charities, and also have maintained a working relationship with many Boston sports players (Jason Varitek, Felix Dubront, Hideki Okajima of the Boston Red Sox). Also orchestrating the event was Peter Carbone of the Haverhill Kiwanis Club, Peter Shanahan of Haverhill High School/Haverhill Schools, and the DiBurro family (David, Joe & Patrick Sr.).*
Speech 001.jpgI was sandwiched between Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini and Matt Battistini Sr. who sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame to honor our Captain. Rabbi Kowniow gave the entertaining blessing and said a few words. Stating that pitchers and catchers report in 67 days, he then asked the Lord to “Strike-Out poverty, disease and Evil Empires”. He also asked: “May he (Varitek) never suffer broken bones anywhere in his body again”.  (Amen to that !!)
Jason is a “captivating” public speaker and got a bit choked-up when recanting his last game of the 2010 season. “I hadn’t thought of how much this team and place mean to me until the last game of the year. My (3) girls were there and really upset and crying, saying: Daddy, why are you going to be gone?” It really hit home and taught him about what it meant to be here. “I’ve never had to sit in the stands (Fenway) and watch a game….and I hope I don’t have to for a while.” 
Varitek’s speech focused on leadership. He spoke of the value of an education (carries his Georgia Tech diploma in his wallet) and outlined his responsibilities as a leader in the clubhouse: being prepared, being accountable, being accessible and communicating. “Do the things that you CAN do to be in control.”
Speech 002.jpg“I’ve been very blessed to be at the right place (Boston) at the right time.” 
“(Fenway) …. can be a tough place to play when things are not going right” and told us of fans shouting” “YOU JUST CRUSHED MY GRANDMOTHER !” 
The speech and questions afterward were very entertaining.
Q: You caught a record number of No-Hitters, but you almost had one with Curt Schilling, what pitch did he “Shake-Off”?
A: (Varitek) Slider…..and he still can’t let go of it. (he said with a smile)
Q: Most memorable moment as a Red Sox player?
A: (Varitek) The last 3rd out in St. Louis.
Q: What do you say to pitchers/players after a bad game or loss?
A: (Varitek) “They Stink…..Sometimes In Japanese”
Q: Will you coach after you retire?
A: (Varitek) “I focus completely on what I have to do (now)”
Q: What did you say to Alex Rodriguez? (His most-frequently asked question)
A: (Varitek) “nothing………he said enough” 
Tek spoke a bit about some of his team mates. Mentioning outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury’s rib injury “you cannot play when you have an injured torso”, and when asked about young catcher Saltalamacchia “I’ve got to learn about Jarrod”. A reporter from the Eagle Tribune asked about the Crawford & Gonzalez additions, Jason said: “Crawford’s quick and Adrian’s bat speaks for itself.”
The veteran player described Spring Training and “Camp Tuck” as being very tough, and takes pride that his 38 year old body always does well (Top 5) against the 22 year olds. Varitek’s favorite sports to play were baseball and football, and he had this to say:
“If I can leave the game and have the respect of my peers, I will be happy.”
– fenway fruitgirl 2010