There is already a lot of Hall of Fame talk now that Buster Posey, a great Giants star of his time and one of the classy winners of his time, has retired at the young age of 34. Posey didn't go out on top, because even though the Giants won a Major League-best 107 regular-season games, they couldn't get past the Dodgers in the National League Division Series. But it felt that way because of the historic season Posey's team had, and because he was one of the most valuable players in the league when he was on the field in 2021.
But if Posey does make it to Cooperstown in five years, there should already be a plaque on the wall for Thurman Munson when he walks in the door. After that, he should be the Hall of Fame catcher holding the door open for Jorge Posada, if the Today's Game Committee has properly acknowledged his career.
The voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America got it so wrong with Thurman Munson, who was on the ballot for 15 years but never elected. And they got it wrong with Posada, who was on the ballot for one year in 2017 and then gone, because he ran into a list that had a lot of guys from the PED era still on it.
Munson essentially has the same resume as Posey does, because of the length of their careers, what they accomplished on the field and the number of World Series they played. They both won the Rookie of the Year Award, before becoming the MVP of their leagues. Posada? He was the Yankees' catcher for almost as long as Yogi Berra was, and played in six World Series. When the Yankees won their last World Series in 2009, the 39-year-old Posada hit 22 home runs, knocked in 81 and hit .285. He played 111 games that year. Posey played in 113 games in his farewell season at the age of 34. He hit 18 homers and knocked in 56.
There is absolutely no attempt here to diminish the fact that Posey is one of the great Giants. In five years, I will happily vote for him in the hope he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Of course, that candidacy will be in the hands of voters like me then. And, of course, it's different with Posada and Munson, whose legacy will be in the hands of the Modern Baseball Committee. Posada's candidacy before the Today's Game Committee will have to wait though, as you must be retired for 15 years to be considered.
Munson was already considered in 2000 and '06, and his name will once again be in the mix in '23, for enshrinement for '24. But his family should not have to wait past that for Munson -- who died in a private plane crash on Aug. 2, 1979 -- to officially take his place with the game's immortals.
Say it again: Everything being said now about Posey, who played in three World Series and saw his team win them all in his 12-year career, can be said about Munson, who played 11 years with the Yankees and played in three World Series and saw the Yanks win two.
Things were not so great between Munson and Reggie Jackson when Jackson got to New York, especially after a famous Sport magazine article in which Jackson was quoted as saying that he was the "straw that stirs the drink" and that Munson could only stir it bad. But when I asked Jackson a couple of years ago who was the best player with whom he ever played, he did not hesitate.
"Thurman," Jackson said.
Munson's lifetime average was .292. He was an All-Star seven times. In his MVP season of 1976, Munson hit 17 home runs and knocked in 105. He was in the middle of having three straight seasons with 100 or more RBIs.
Posey, who came back from a terrible left ankle injury the year after he was Rookie of the Year (and saw baseball change its rules about home-plate collisions after he was run over by the Marlins' Scott Cousins in 2011), had a lifetime average of .302. He was an All-Star seven times. In his MVP season of '12, he hit 24 home runs, knocked in 103 and batted .336. It was one of the two times he knocked in more than 90 runs in a season.
And then there is Posada, a member of what was known as the Yankees' Core Four as they were winning four World Series in five years between 1996 and 2000 and taking a lead into the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 in the 2001 Series against the Diamondbacks. He had 90 or more RBIs five times. He finished third in the MVP voting in 2003, when he hit 30 homers, knocked in 101 and batted .281. Four years later, he produced his best average, .338.
In my opinion, Posey, and you saw this week that I'm not alone, had a Hall of Fame career. Hands down. But so too did Posada. And before either one of them came along, so did the great Munson. One gets in, they should all get in. And then when Yadier Molina goes on the ballot, he can make it four.