Jorge Posada will be remembered as one of the greatest Yankees, and that’s about the highest honor a player can have
Roger Clemens spoke of Jorge Posada with something akin to reverence in his voice. That is, he trusted him in a way he didn’t always trust his catchers.
Clemens was tough on catchers because he was so combustible. He went to the mound angry, a bundle of nerves and emotions and raging competitive fires. Early in his career, a scout said, “I don’t see him lasting very long, not when he treats every start as a Texas-OU football game.”
Posada had a knack for saying just the right thing, for keeping Clemens somewhat in check, for helping get the most out of him. Five years from now when we’re considering Posada’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame, there’ll be volumes of statistics detailing his greatness as a player, as a teammate and as a winner.
He’ll be forever linked to Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. Together, they had one of the great runs in history. Posada was there for six of their seven pennants and four of their five World Series.
He played in 125 postseason games, including 29 in the World Series. Now there’s just Rivera and Jeter after the news that Posada has decided to retire rather than play for another team. He had offers from other teams, most likely as a DH, but he decided not to wear another uniform.
He leaves on the Yankees’ Top 10 list in games, home runs, doubles and extra base hits and with Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra and Thurman Munson among the greatest Yankee catchers of all-time.
Among all catchers, he’s in the top 10 in virtually every offensive category, right there behind Pudge Rodriguez and Mike Piazza among players he played with and against.
Still, to the teammates who played with him and the players and managers who competed against him, he’ll be remembered for things that can be measured just by numbers.
He contributed to winning, not just in the things that can be measured, but also in his role as a good teammate and a relentless worker. When you think of his Yankees, you think first of Jeter, Rivera, Posada and Pettitte. What do they all have in common?
They carried themselves a certain way. They believed winning was the only bottom line that mattered. They weren’t always great quotes, but they were great players in all the ways we define that vague term.
Posada began his professional career as a second baseman and had to work hard to get comfortable behind the plate. In the end, his presence and leadership were more defining characteristics than glove work.
In 17 seasons, he made the American League All-Star Team five times. He hit 275 home runs and played in 1,829 games. In the end, though, he’ll be remembered for being part of those four championship teams, for contributing to baseball’s most successful franchise.
It would have looked odd seeing him DH for the Rays or Orioles this season, and Posada apparently couldn’t see it as well. So now he’ll move on to the next chapter of his life. He departs with the respect of almost everyone who know him, and isn’t that how we’d all like to be remembered?