NEW YORK -- Like so many big leaguers past and present, Jorge Posada flew back to his home country of Puerto Rico this winter and landed in a nightmare. And like so many others, Posada resolved to help.The hardship brought on the island was too palpable, the communities too ravished,
NEW YORK -- Like so many big leaguers past and present, Jorge Posada flew back to his home country of Puerto Rico this winter and landed in a nightmare. And like so many others, Posada resolved to help.
The hardship brought on the island was too palpable, the communities too ravished, the images of the destruction brought on by Hurricane Maria too gut-wrenching for Posada not to take action.
"It felt like a bomb just hit," said Posada, speaking at the annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, where he was honored for his relief efforts on the island. "To tell you the truth, I've never seen so many power lines down. You see the lines on the street, houses where the water came up. You just don't understand. Everything was brown. The vegetation was all dead. People in shelters still, five months later. My family had no power, no water, for more than four months. There are still people who have no power. It's tough, it really is."
It's a picture, a reality, in stark contrast to the glitz and security of midtown Manhattan, where Posada rehashed the memory. The former catcher has gone back and forth 11 times since the hurricane hit Puerto Rico last fall, leaving millions despondent. Back and forth, from comfort to catastrophe, he's raised money here to spend down there, where so many need it.
In all, Posada and his wife, Laura, have teamed up with other celebrities to provide aid to cancer patients, help re-stock homes decimated by flooding and transport planes full of supplies. They've raised nearly $500,000 for the island.
Other big leaguers have led separate but similar efforts, including Carlos Beltran, who Posada said "does everything he can for Puerto Rico."
The former Mets and Yankees outfielder, who was offered a job in the Yankees' front office after interviewing for their managerial job this winter, is leading an effort to rebuild 200 houses on the island. He's helped raise $1.5 million -- including $1 million of his own money -- to help relief efforts. He was honored Tuesday alongside Posada for these efforts.
"The country is in need right now," said Beltran. "I felt in my heart, I needed to do something. At the end of the day, as Puerto Rican and as an athlete, I'm doing to best I can to provide help to the people who are in need."
Beltran, who was born and raised in Manati, Puerto Rico, said he was "disappointed" with the federal government's response to the storm.
"There is no doubt I'm disappointed and I'm not the only one. There are a lot of people disappointed that we haven't gotten the same benefits," Beltran said. "Being part of the United States, you expect getting the same benefits when a tragedy like this happens. The fact that we haven't gotten those, yeah, it's a disappointment.
Beltran also said he will not be part of the Astros' contingent that visits the White House as a reward for their World Series championship. He said that decision was unrelated to the president or the government's response to Maria.
"I'm retired so I'm not really part of the team anymore," he said. "My family is my team now."
Beltran will take his family on a summer trip to Puerto Rico, his first in a quarter century after retiring from a two-decade career. The trip won't be all leisure.
"I don't want to be remembered for the player I was," Beltran said. "I want to be remembered for the impact I had on other people's lives."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.