Like all other Yankee fans, I experienced a flood of emotions when I learned that longtime catcher Jorge Posada will be announcing in his retirement in a few weeks. I started thinking about Posada's career and I wasn't surprised that my memories of him are not the purely statistical and on-the field variety. I am never able to hold on to those kinds of memories, but I do remember off-the-field things, some of which would be considered quasi off-the-field, such as the following (in no particular order):
1. While he was still Joe Girardi's backup he was quoted in the media as saying "I'm tired of being a prospect." I remember Ken Singleton chuckling when he read it during a game. He wasn't chuckling anymore after Posada became the starting backstop.
2. There was a game televised on FOX one Saturday which Posada started. He came up to bat early in the game and grounded out. Upset about it, he didn't run all the way to first base. A mic'd up Joe Torre was heard chastising Posada for failing to touch first base. He never failed to touch it again.
3. His first real job was as Doc Gooden's personal catcher. He told an interviewer that he was hopeful that more pitchers in the rotation would be impressed enough with his work with Gooden that they would ask him to catch them as well. They didn't have to ask; his bat made that decision for them.
4. He told a funny anecdote on YES Network's "Centerstage," about an old couple he rented a room from in the minor leagues: When he failed to catch a ball he could hear the man in the stands yelling "Catch the ball!" He sounded just like an old man when he imitated the old geezer.
5. Who can forget that All-Star Game during which Posada sent his young son, Jorge Jr, running out onto the field during player introductions? I can still see the look of pride on Posada's face during that moment. Just adorable.
6. Pitcher Hideki Irabu had to be one of the most difficult pitchers Posada had to deal with. After a game up at Fenway Park in which Irabu had pitched very well, Posada told reporters that he specifically told Irabu's interpreter to "make sure he's comfortable out there." The look on Posada's face as he recalled saying it said "and I mean it, too!" He definitely didn't take crap from anyone.
7. Posada was never great at blocking the plate. There were many days where runners passed him and I yelled at the television in frustration. But, so many championships point to the fact that things have a way of working out.
8. Fleet of foot he was not. It was painful to watch Posada on the basepaths at times. But, more often than not, he made up for it by knocking the ball out of the park. I loved hearing John Sterling say "Jorgie juiced one!"
9. I laughed at a faux pax made by Posada and his best buddy Derek Jeter on Team Picture Day years ago. It was Posada's birthday and his wife made a spaghetti dinner for the three of them before the guys went off to the ballpark. They lingered over the meal too long and showed up too late to be in the team picture. I believe they were air-brushed into the photo.
10. And finally, I was moved when I watched Posada get emotional when he was interviewed after Jeter became the all-time Yankee hits leader last year. Seeing how close he is to the Captain was really touching.
So those are some of my memories of Jorge Posada. What are some of yours? I wish him all the best during his retirement. Congratulations Sado.