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Surprise party

Jason Varitek and Catherine Panagiotopoulos (center) celebrate their engagement at Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill at the Seaport. Jason Varitek and Catherine Panagiotopoulos (center) celebrate their engagement at Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill at the Seaport.
By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
April 11, 2011

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Jason Varitek made his 39th birthday a memorable one. The Sox captain proposed to girlfriend Catherine Panagiotopoulos while dining Saturday at Strega Waterfront. (In case you’re wondering, she said “Yes!’’) Panagiotopoulos is no stranger to ballplayers. She previously dated Yankee Nick Swisher, whom she met when he played in the Cape Cod League. The backup catcher and his bride-to-be then headed over to the new Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill at the Seaport for a private party. There were balloons and a big cake from Mike’s Pastry, and when the couple walked in, everyone yelled “Surprise!’’ Well-wishers included David and Tiffany Ortiz, Dustin and Kelli Pedroia, Jonathan and Ashley Papelbon, Clay and Lindsay Buchholz, and Tim and Stacy Wakefield. This would be marriage No. 2 for ’Tek, who divorced his first wife, Karen, in 2009. The couple, who were married in 1996, have three daughters. Most of the details of the divorce were sealed, but we do know the bearded backstop shares custody of the kids and has been paying $9,000 a month in child support. (That goes down to $4,500 next month.) No word on when the happy couple will walk down the aisle.