Buster Posey Day a fitting tribute to iconic Giants catcher originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — As he took the podium Saturday afternoon, Buster Posey told a story of growing up in Georgia in 1995. He stayed up to watch the Atlanta Braves win the World Series that fall, and a dream was born.
Posey became enamored with the thought of 25 men pushing for the same goal: Winning a World Series title. He won three of them in San Francisco, and on Saturday afternoon, former teammates and coaches descended on Oracle Park for Buster Posey Day.
During a lengthy pregame ceremony, the Giants celebrated Posey’s career, which ended when he shockingly announced his retirement in November.
The ceremony was at times emotional, with Posey asking the crowd to recognize some of the kids and families in attendance who have battled cancer, a cause near and dear to his heart. At times it was humorous, particularly when Bengie Molina took the mic. It also included an Emmy Award being presented to Posey for his incredible work in Giants commercials.
Posey was the last to speak, bringing up highlights from his career and thanking Giants fans.
“I never thought this was about me,” Posey said. “This was about me being a part of something. Right now, it’s an opportunity for me to thank you, the fans, for letting me be part of that, letting my teammates be part of that. I just want to tell you how thankful I am.”
Posey said he was “humble and grateful” for his time in San Francisco, which included three thrilling October runs. He talked about those, including the final one, led by Posey and Madison Bumgarner. Posey recalled watching Kansas City Royals fans see Bumgarner come out of the bullpen in Game 7 of the World Series.
“I think they all knew at that time, they were about to witness a piece of baseball history,” Posey said, smiling. “Unfortunately they were just going to be on the wrong side of it.”
Posey closed by saying he was grateful he got to wear a Giants uniform for a dozen years.
“I never wanted to wear another one,” Posey said.
The ceremony brought a lot of Posey’s former teammates back to Oracle Park, as well as some of the men who helped make him a Giant. Bruce Bochy, Dave Righetti, Bobby Evans and John Barr sat in the front row next to Farhan Zaidi, Gabe Kapler and Scott Harris. Bochy got a huge ovation, but the loudest cheers were reserved for the former players, a list that included Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Jeffrey Leonard, Molina, Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, Jeremy Affeldt, Cory Gearrin, Nick Hundley, Gregor Blanco, Andres Torres and Brian Wilson.
Bochy and Kapler stepped up to speak together, and when the crowd started giving Bochy a standing ovation, Kapler subtly dropped back a few feet to allow him to soak it in. Bochy started his speech by looking at Posey and saying, “If you want to look at the backbone of our three championships, look no further than No. 28 here.”
“Buster, I want to thank you for helping create so many lifetime memories for all of us and for me,” Bochy continued. “We were in Philly for Game 6 (in 2010) and we have first and second and it’s a one-run game, and we’ve got Brian Wilson up there and Willy is on the mound, and Willy is going to do what he does and run a 3-2 count, which he’s really good at. Buster called a backdoor slider that sent us to our first World Series and then later on he caught another slider in Texas, to win our first World Series.
“I think about 2020 when (Sergio) Romo throws the fastball that (Miguel) Cabrera never swung at to win that World Series. And I think if Buster and I would have known that he would have thrown that pitch there, we still might be throwing up. And then of course, (Madison Bumgarner) and Buster taking over Game 7 in Kansas City.
“Buster, I just want to tell you that it was an honor to ride with you, it was an honor to spend time with you, it was an honor to have a front row seat watching one of the best ever do his thing. You made the team better, you made the city better, and you made me better, and I can’t thank you enough.”
The managers were followed by some former teammates, including Cain, who made a rare appearance at Oracle Park, and Affeldt, who promised to keep his speech short but also warned the Cardinals — who were watching in the dugout — that the game would not be starting on time. Affeldt said he enjoyed every moment as Posey’s teammate.
“I loved dinner because I made you pay. I never even brought my wallet,” Affeldt said. “It was great. I loved everything. Right now I’m truly very honored to be on this field with you and have an opportunity to say these words. Thank you so much, you deserve everything, and congratulations on a Hall of Fame career.”
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The biggest laughs, though, came from Molina, who was the catcher for the Giants before Posey took over midway through the 2010 season. As his younger brother, Yadier, watched from the warning track, Bengie said all he wanted was a Buster Hug — he got one — and then pulled out a pen and asked Posey to sign his jersey.
“Buster, what can I say about him?” Molina said, smiling. “He got me a ring!”
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