By Chris Haft
Special to The Examiner
For Buster Posey, participating in Saturday’s celebration of his Giants career was the least he could do.
No fanfare — pun fully intended — preceded his announcement early last November that he was retiring from baseball as an active player. “I know it was probably abrupt to some of you,” he told a group of reporters after Saturday’s ceremony.
Posey didn’t feel at all as if he was doing the fans a favor by consenting to this appearance. Rather, he believed that he owed them a chance to express themselves after having reveled in his performance since September, 2009 — a tenure that featured seven All-Star selections, a National League batting title and Most Valuable Player award in 2012 and the franchise’s first three World Series triumphs since it moved to San Francisco in 1958.
Moreover, he felt that he needed to express himself to the fans.
“It was very important to me to say ‘Thank you’ to the fan base,” said Posey, 35. Referring to 2019, the year when COVID transformed life and forced Major Leaguers to conduct a shortened season in front of cardboard cutouts, he added, “Without the fans, we all saw what baseball was like. It was so fresh in our minds.”
During his 13-minute address to a mostly full house at Oracle Park before Saturday’s Cardinals-Giants game, Posey cited a notable event that remained fresh in his mind: the Atlanta Braves’ World Series title in 1995. Posey recalled watching that Fall Classic on television as a youth in Leesburg, Ga., and becoming transfixed at the sight of the Braves celebrating the first championship in their Atlanta history.
Thus, when he had the opportunity to help lead the Giants to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, the template for his motivation had long since developed.
“I never thought this was about me,” Posey said in his speech. “This was about me being a part of something.”
So by establishing himself as the greatest catcher in Giants history, Posey joined the franchise’s rich pantheon of heroes, many of whom assembled on chairs in the infield to join the tribute to him. The list of about 30 guests included approximately two dozen former players, from legends such as Barry Bonds and Will Clark to Posey’s teammates like Jeremy Affeldt, Andres Torres, Gregor Blanco and Nick Hundley. Also present was Greg Johnson, the seldom-seen chairman of the Giants’ ownership group.
Fans reserved their loudest applause for former manager Bruce Bochy, closely followed by Matt Cain, Hunter Pence and Brian Wilson. Bengie Molina nearly stole the show by asking Posey to give him a “Buster Hug” and autograph the Giants jersey he wore.
Chris Haft is a longtime Bay Area baseball writer who covers the Giants for The Examiner.