Giants teammates remember Buster Posey

Team prepares to honor the star — and the man —this weekend

By Chris Haft

Special to The Examiner

Leader. Teammate. Competitor. Friend.

Buster Posey, who the Giants are honoring this weekend, filled these roles and more during a career that spanned from 2009 to 2021. If he were a nicer guy but a lesser ballplayer, the ballclub might not be so quick to celebrate him. Likewise, if he were an indomitable bear on the field but an insufferable boor off of it, he probably wouldn’t be drawing all the extra attention that includes addressing the assembled fans.

That’s just it: Posey didn’t disappoint the fans. He didn’t always generate a clutch hit or record a tough out, but he didn’t have to. The Giants and their fans implicitly believed in Posey.

Here are a handful of Giants veterans who expressed what Posey meant to them.

Tim Flannery, third-base coach

We were playing the Rockies when Buster was a rookie. I forget who their pitcher was, but he had thrown 11 wild pitches that season. I told Buster, “You’ve got to get a bigger secondary lead.” So the pitcher throws, and Buster stops halfway down the line. I said, “Buster, you’ve got to get back to third after every pitch.” He snapped at me and said, “You can’t have it both ways.” I realized, “This is probably what fuels this guy.“

Javier Lopez, left-hander

As far as getting to know him in 2010, he just carried himself like a veteran. I remember being scared and nervous my whole rookie season, and this guy commanded the room.

The playoffs are what jumps out. He commanded a pitching staff which had various levels of experience, and he did it so well. For me personally, it was having to face Jason Heyward in the National League Division Series. That was his competition for Rookie of the Year in 2010, and I had the opportunity to pitch while those two dueled in the box. Buster’s game-planning vs. Jason trying to guess and plan himself. It was fun looking back at it because not only did Buster come out on top but to watch the fist pumps because he understood the situations. But he had a team-first mentality. Being asked to lead a staff and hit in the middle of the order is unthinkable to me. That’s so much pressure for anyone, let alone a rookie.

That’s why he will be a Hall of Famer, and it was great to watch it day-in and day-out.

Dave Righetti, pitching coach

After we drafted him, we knew that we had a chance to be pretty good pretty quick. Making him the everydaycatcher was one of three big things Brian Sabean did. With Bob Quinn after the 1992 season, he got Dave Burba, Mike Jackson and Bill Swift for Kevin Mitchell. Then there was the Matt Williams trade before the 1997 season. Then trading Bengie Molina to make room for Buster really impacted some guys. But everybody who came to us — Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong — fell in behind Buster.

George Kontos, right-hander

Buster and I were sitting next to each other on the team bus in Boston in 2016, and we had a conversation about family, about how he and (his wife) Kristin were thinking about adopting, trying to help kids who maybe were not able to have the life they deserved. Fast-forward to 2020 (when the Poseys adopted twins). That, to me, embodies what Buster is all about. Everybody knows about the accolades, the leadership. … But what really embodies Buster is what a fierce family man he is.

Chris Haft is a longtime Bay Area baseball writer who covers the Giants for The Examiner.

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