We wanted Buster Posey before we knew his name. He is the dream prospect, the one who would emerge to solve all the team’s problems, become the face of the franchise, and return from battle with a title in hand. Our baseball soulmate we knew was out there but just weren’t lucky enough to find. And then we did and holy moly it has been an incredible ride.
Buster Posey is every team’s dream reward for four consecutive losing seasons: the best player on your team who becomes the face of your franchise. It didn’t take long for the rookie to become more than a ballplayer. He’s his own brand, and for a time, it seemed like the Giants were in the Buster Posey business more than they were his employer.
His final major league callup on May 29, 2010 changed the course of the franchise. He hit .305/.357/.505 in his rookie season and was the de facto cleanup hitter by season’s end. He stole second base late in the the clinching Game Four of the NLDS in 2010. (Yep. 100% stole it.) He had a 4-hit game in the NLCS. Homered in Game Four of the World Series.
In a single season, he realized our wildest expectations for a top prospect and laid the foundation for becoming a legend. YThe years that followed expanded upon it some more before cementing his legacy of the greatest Giant of the greatest period in San Francisco Giants history. You don’t need me to recap his career highlights, you know them intuitively.
But here’s the greatest swing he’s ever had in the postseason anyway.
That game-deciding grand slam in 2012 completed this intense personal trilogy for Buster Posey. 2010 was that stunning rookie season. He lost 2011 thanks to Scott Cousins. This swing slayed a foe of the Giants. That long look and strut out of the box completed his transformation from rookie and young player to one of the best players in baseball. He owned who he was in that very moment: a hero.
That’s why Buster Hugs became a thing. The implication was that Buster was proud of you for finally doing something that could compete with his greatness. And it felt good to believe that. He’s Superman. There’s nothing he can’t do, no expectation too grandiose. He’s already proven he can do it all.
And then time passes and we get the other side of the legend. The golden years. The fall from grace. But if Buster Posey isn’t the player he once was and if he’s never likely to show a flash of that brilliant talent, that’s okay. Not only has he done enough already, he’s not going anywhere. He’ll play out his contract as a mentor for potentially the next face of the franchise and still provide above average defensive skills behind home plate.
The decade would’ve been radically different without Buster Posey. Maybe there would’ve been a championship in there with just the pitching and all the other good fortune that fell into place, but without Posey, they’d have had no one who could carry the weight of the franchise with such ease. These post hip surgery years don’t need to be a long and painful goodbye. He’s going to end things on his own terms and we’re going to do what we’ve always done: enjoy the ride.
We’ll never fully know how Buster Posey came to be Buster Posey. We can say with certainty that we watched him evolve into this pure being of baseball, but if asked, we won’t quite be able to explain how it happened. Like a magic trick. Or a dream. Or just being made so happy by someone so impressive that we never bothered to stop and think nor even care how we got from there to here.