Posey's legacy unparalleled in SF Giants lore

November 5th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- remembers being heartbroken when his high school baseball team lost the state championship in Georgia. He felt a similar sting when his college team fell short of a national championship in each of his three seasons at Florida State.

When he was drafted by the Giants with the fifth overall pick in 2008, Posey had only one goal in mind as he embarked upon his professional career.

“What I wanted was to win,” Posey said. “I wanted to win a championship.”

In San Francisco, he won three, ushering in the golden age of Giants baseball while cementing himself as the greatest catcher in the franchise’s 138-year history. That era officially came to an end on Thursday, when Posey announced his retirement from Major League Baseball following an iconic 12-year career.

A seven-time All-Star, Posey captured 2010 National League Rookie of the Year honors en route to leading the Giants to their first World Series title since moving to San Francisco in 1958. He suffered a gruesome ankle injury in a home-plate collision with Scott Cousins in 2011, but he came back to win the 2012 NL MVP Award and carry the Giants to another championship. In 2014, he capped the franchise’s remarkable run by teaming up with batterymate Madison Bumgarner to will the club to its third title in five years.

That dynastic success -- and his trademark Buster Hugs -- will ultimately define Posey’s unparalleled on-field legacy with the Giants, showcasing the immeasurable leadership the 34-year-old veteran brought to the clubhouse since he first burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced rookie in 2009.

“I got to win three world championships,” Posey said. “I got to be a part of the first one ever [in San Francisco] and two more. I couldn’t ask for much more than that.”

Giants president and CEO Larry Baer still remembers hosting Posey at Oracle Park shortly after the club drafted the Leesburg, Ga., native and projecting his hopes onto the highly touted young catcher.

“A little fairy tale ran through my mind on that night in August 2008,” Baer said. “The fairy tale was we’re going to have a productive player that will be a Giant for a long time and help make memories for the fans. We’d have a player that would be adored by the fans, a player who would be involved in the community in meaningful ways. A high-integrity player, a great teammate. Part of this fairy tale was maybe a player that would lead us to our first championship in San Francisco.”

Baer, of course, got his wish and much more.

Posey developed into the heart and soul of the Giants, adding four NL Silver Slugger Awards (he’s a finalist for another one this year), two NL Comeback Player of the Year Awards, one NL Gold Glove Award and an NL batting title while finishing his career with a .302 career average, 1,500 hits and 158 home runs.

He is one of three catchers to win at least three World Series titles and catch at least three no-hitters, joining Yogi Berra and Bill Carrigan. His 44.9 WAR also ranks 16th all-time among catchers, according to Baseball-Reference, likely putting him in line for eventual enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

As good as he was behind the plate, Posey also had the remarkable ability to raise up everyone around him, from his teammates to coaches to front-office staff. When Farhan Zaidi left Los Angeles to become the Giants’ new president of baseball operations in November 2018, he remembers feeling “rattled” by the perception among fans that he was a secret agent for the Dodgers or too analytically driven.

Posey was one of the first members of the Giants to reach out to Zaidi, who finally began to feel at home with his new organization following a lengthy meeting with the longtime face of the franchise.

“There’s nothing anybody else could have done that made me feel more comfortable and more like a Giant than you taking that time in my first few days,” Zaidi told Posey. “Those were the moments when I truly feel like I became a Giant. I share that story because I think all of us have these stories about Buster. Just the incredible empathy he has, the ability he has to elevate people and put them in the best position to do their jobs.”

Posey ended his career with one of his finest seasons, batting .304 with an .889 OPS and 18 home runs after sitting out the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The Giants were hoping to keep him as a centerpiece of the team and exercise his $22 million club option for 2022, but Posey decided to go out on his own terms, citing a desire to spend more time with his family and step away from the physical grind of the game.

“I’m humbled to have been able to create great memories for a fan base,” Posey said. “And it goes both ways because I got to play in this ballpark in front of 42,000-plus most nights, and I fulfilled a childhood dream.”

It’s the end of a fairy tale for the Giants, but one that won’t be soon forgotten.