NEWTON - This Halloween, Jason Varitek gave trick-or-treaters something infinitely more valuable than a king-sized Snickers bar. The Red Sox captain sat in a lawn chair at the top on his driveway and handed out autographs, signing baseballs, hats, shirts, pillow cases stuffed with candy, and a green alien glove from a youngster's costume.
Christopher Roberts, 10, dressed up as the catcher - a white number 33 Red Sox jersey, baseball pants, and red colored socks pulled up past his calves - only to find himself standing face-to-face with his hero.
"He signed my shirt, right on the first three," Roberts said.
Two police cruisers came to direct traffic and control the crowd, which swelled to some 50 youngsters and parents on a leafy block in the tony village of Waban, in Newton.
"Varitek looked really tired," said Ch ris O'Connell, 45, who brought his sons Joshua, (dressed as a Japanese ninja), 9, and Zeke, (Darth Vader), 7, to get autographs. "It was great - for him to be sitting out there after 9 o'clock on Halloween says a lot about the guy."
It was another example of a Red Sox player transcending his superstardom to reach out to fans, much like the time two players delivered Mexican food to a crowd waiting for playoff tickets on Lansdowne Street last month.
At the local commuter station a few blocks from Varitek's home, the village's affection for the Sox catcher is articulated on handwritten signs hung on a fence - "Waban Loves V-Tek!" and "Tek is the best" - that he passes on his route to Fenway Park.
"Waban has been good to us and respected our privacy," Varitek said yesterday in an interview at his home. "It was a good opportunity for me to say thanks."
The Variteks had a small Halloween gathering at their home that included the families of two other Red Sox players - third baseman Mike Lowell and Doug Mirabelli, another catcher. After the guests left, Varitek's oldest daughter, Aly, 7, had an idea: Dad should go out and sign autographs while she handed out Butterfinger candy bars.
"I couldn't really tell you how many there were, but it was a lot," Varitek said with a heavy sigh. "But it ended up being a good thing."
For trick-or-treaters, it was better than good. It was better than Christmas.
Dressed in an all-black demon biker costume, Maxx Teitleman, 9, had to think fast to find something for a signature. He handed Varitek the blue pillow case he had taken from his bed to collect candy. "I'm not going to use that pillow case again anytime soon," Teitleman said.
At the O'Connell house, Joshua woke up the morning after Halloween in disbelief. He spotted the baseball signed by the catcher of the 2007 World Series champions, but still ran down stairs with a question. "I asked mom if it was a dream," he said.