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After 17 years of wearing the Yankee pinstripes, Jorge Posada officially announced his retirement from Major League Baseball at a press conference held at Yankee Stadium Tuesday morning.
The lifelong Yankee announced his retirement, fittingly, in the same manner he played the game, sporting his heart on his sleeve. With his wife Laura and children Jorge Jr. and Paulina at his side, an emotional Posada struggled to suppress tears, as he read a prepared statement addressing his farewell.
Posada, 40, finishes his career with a .273 batting average, 900 runs scored, 379 doubles, 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI in 1,829 games—all with the Yankees. He is a five-time World Series Champion (’96, ’98, ’99, ’00, ’09) as well as a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner (’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’07). He finishes his career ranked seventh on the Yankees’ all-time list in doubles, seventh in walks, eighth in home runs and 11th in RBI.
Originally selected by the Yankees in the 24th round of the 1990 First-Year Player Draft, Posada holds the distinction of being one of just five players all time to record at least 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 275 home runs and 1,000 RBI while playing at least half of his career at catcher, joining Ivan Rodriguez and Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk. He ranks eighth all time in home runs among players whose primary position was catcher.
During his speech, Posada thanked everyone from his family to former teammates and coaches, the Yankees organization and front office, as well as other Yankee icons, most notably Joe Torre and Yogi Berra. He also thanked his minor league coaches and everyone else that had an influence on him growing up as a young ball player in Puerto Rico, dreaming big to hopefully one day make it to the Major Leagues.
But amidst all of the inevitable sadness, there was still plenty to smile about as Posada reflected upon his career. The room was filled by dozens of media members and reporters, but also several Yankees personnel, including Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman and of course, the Steinbrenner family, amongst others.
“Playing for the New York Yankees has been an honor. I could never wear another uniform,” Posada said. “It was just priceless. I will forever be a Yankee.”
To the left of where the Posada and his family was seated were the five World Series trophies Posada was a part of winning. Posada reminisced about some of his favorite career moments, which included his three personal favorites: his big league call-up late in the 1995 season, catching David Wells’ perfect game in 1998, and being on the field, catching Mariano Rivera, for for the final out of the 1999 World Series.
Yankees fans certainly have many more fond memories of Posada they will always remember. Posada’s Yankee legacy ranks right up there with some of the most prestigious names in the team’s illustrious history. As a matter of fact, it is not far-fetched at all to believe he will one day have his number 20 retired by the team, etching his name in Yankees lore amongst the rest of the Yankee greats retired in Monument Park.
For the majority of his time in pinstripes, Posada was the clear-cut backbone of the team. He was a leader in every sense of the word. He was a gritty and gutsy competitor and went about his business ‘the right way.’ Posada was an outstanding teammate, on the field, off the field, and in the clubhouse. Posada played with a fiery attitude and intensified passion every single inning of every single game. He was a complete player and took pride in his catching duties as the field general and mentor to the pitching staff. And like all Yankee greats, Posada absolutely despised losing. All in all, Posada was able to bless the Yankees with something they had sorely been missing behind the plate since the tragic death of Thurman Munson.
Thurman’s widow, Diana Munson, was on hand at the press conference and spoke at the podium on Posada’s behalf. She praised Posada for his many career achievements but also thanked him for bringing her back to baseball for the first time since her husband’s passing in 1979. She spoke about the parallels between Jorge and Thurman, not only on the field, but off of it as well, as Posada, just like Thurman was, is a tremendously devoted family man and charitable person. Nearly ten years ago Posada established a foundation in his name to support the families of children who suffer from Craniosynostosis, such as his son.
“I think he and Thurman would have been best buds,” Munson said. She concluded her statement by saying she has loved two Yankee catchers in her lifetime.
Many baseball writers believe that Posada has the credentials to qualify for induction into the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible for candidacy in five years. Of the 13 former Major League catchers in the Hall of Fame (Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Roger Bresnahan, Roy Campanella, Gary Carter, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, Buck Ewing, Rick Ferrell, Carlton Fisk, Gabby Hartnett, Ernie Lombardi and Ray Schalk), only Berra has better numbers in batting average, home runs and RBI (.285, 358 and 1,430, respectively). When asked about that type of an honor, Posada smiled brightly and admitted it would be more than he could have ever imagined.
Posada was quick to defuse any talk about a comeback when the question was asked. He was also asked about having a desire to become a coach or a broadcaster, but Posada reiterated his only immediate plans are to spend quality time at home with his family.
” I haven’t had a summer with them,” Posada said.
When asked about how he went about deciding the time was right to retire now, Posada explained simply that the desire to get ready for another 162-game regular-season just was not there for him. The idea of playing in any other uniform did not appeal to him or entice him to delay his retirement plans any further. He admitted this past year was extremely tough on him, as he struggled to adapt to a new role in not being a catcher and being the team’s primary Designated Hitter. But Posada thanked his teammates for continuously supporting him, specifically Derek Jeter for helping him to stay focused and positive throughout the difficult season.
“Thank you, buddy. Hopefully you won’t miss me too much,” Posada said to Jeter with a smile as he tried to suppress any further tears.
As we know, George Steinbrenne had a way with words, especially when it came to labeling some of his most prominent Yankee players. Steinbrenner referred to the late Bobby Murcer (who was Munson’s closest teammate) as being the “consummate Yankee.” If the Boss were still here today, I firmly believe, he would not hesitate for a second to reuse those words and proclaim Jorge Posada as the perfect Yankee.