Jarrod Saltalamacchia retires, should be remembered for one moment above all others in Boston

John Tomase
January 29, 2019 - 12:09 pm

Jarrod Saltalamacchia's best seasons came in a Red Sox uniform, from 2010-13. But he'll be remembered for an idea he had off the field that sparked a nationwide rallying cry.

It was Saltalamacchia, along with teammate Jonny Gomes and clubhouse manager Tommy McLaughlin, who decided to hang a 617 Red Sox jersey with the words "Boston Strong" in the visiting dugout at Cleveland's Progressive Field in 2013, just hours after bombs had exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

That jersey became one of the enduring images of defiance in the face of unspeakable tragedy, and it was only fitting that Gomes and Saltalamacchia each displayed one at the finish line during the championship parade after the Red Sox won their stunning 2013 World Series title.

Saltalamacchia is relevant today because on Monday he announced his retirement after 12 years in the big leagues. He had battled to remain active over the last two seasons, appearing in just 16 games with the Blue Jays and Tigers between stints as a NESN analyst.

In a statement to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Saltalamacchia thanked the Red Sox, in particular. He hit .243 with 55 homers in 355 games here, including a career-high 25 homers in 2012, and a career-best .804 OPS in 2013.

"I want to especially Thank Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington and ownership of the Boston Red Sox for believing in me so much that they brought me over to fill the shoes of my childhood idol and mentor Jason Varitek!" Saltalamacchia wrote. "I can tell you playing beside him and putting on the Red Sox jersey and playing the position of Red Sox greats like the captain and Carlton Fisk was humbling and an honor!! To win a World Series is one thing but to win it in front of the iconic baseball fans of Boston is truly my most memorable moment!"

Saltalamacchia signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins in 2014, but never lived up to his Boston numbers. He hit .200 with a .661 OPS over the final five years of his career, bouncing from Miami to Arizona to Detroit to Toronto and finally back to Detroit, where he went hitless in eight plate appearances last season.

He finishes his career with a lifetime .232 average and 110 home runs, as well as one indelible mark left on Boston.