Buster Posey took to a modest press conference room on Thursday afternoon, joined at the table by his wife Kristen and three members of the San Francisco Giants front office. His first words into the microphone were remarkably blunt: “As you know, I’m here today announcing that I’m retiring.”
When The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly broke the news just over 24 hours prior that Posey would be announcing his retirement, I briefly felt bad for the Giants star. Here he was, addressing the press for the final time of thousands, making one of baseball’s biggest statements this offseason, and someone just tweeted out what he was going to say.
Then I smartened up and realized this was by design. Baggarly likely shared the news less with the consent of Posey and his team, and more at the request. Posey didn’t want to be a big story; he didn’t want to be a bombshell. He never wanted the drama, from draft day down to his final presser. He only even had a presser because he thought people deserved to be publicly thanked for their role in his storied career.
And so it made sense that Posey would set it up so that he could enter the stage and start with, “As you know...”
But while we knew that Posey would be announcing his retirement, we were left with a lot of questions. Mainly “Why?” and “What’s next?”
Posey didn’t exactly record the audiobook version of his memoir on Friday, but he did offer up some insight.
Here are some things we learned.
He retired for all of the reasons
Even as we asked “Why?” ahead of his presser, it was easy to count the potential reasons. He’s 34 and, last I checked, not getting younger. He was dealt as bad of an injury as you can suffer in baseball early in his career, plays the most grueling position on the diamond, has been banged up nearly nonstop, and has a history of concussions. He’s a family man with four young children. He’s made more money than his grandkids will know what to do with. He’s done it all on the diamond.
Posey didn’t mention the financial element, but he mentioned pretty much everything else. He predictably avoided mention of any reason for retirement in his prepared statement, but didn’t shy away when the question was asked.
He responded, in part, saying, “I want to be able to do more stuff from February to November with my family. Physically, it’s much harder now, and to be honest it’s hard to enjoy it as much when there’s the physical pain that you’re dealing with on a daily basis.”
Posey didn’t say he wanted to go out on top, but did say that part of the motivation for playing this year, instead of retiring during the pandemic season in which he opted out, was to prove to himself that he could still perform at a high level after a disappointing 2019 season.
I’d say he accomplished that mission.
He’s not pulling a Matt Cain
If you live a little north of the Bay Area, you might have the pleasure of randomly running into Giants legend Matt Cain who, last I checked, lived in the unassuming but lovely little city of Petaluma.
It won’t be happening with Posey, who said that the family plans to move back to Georgia, where both Buster and Kristen are originally from, and where the bulk of their family still resides. He mentioned that he has young family members he’s yet to meet, and that some of their family hasn’t been able to meet his youngest twin daughters.
He sounded like someone ready to go home.
He’s not joining the team in a different capacity
Some hoped that Posey would retire and slide into another role with the team, perhaps as a coach of some sort.
Posey left the door open, saying he’d love to be involved in the future but, “I couldn’t tell you what capacity that is right now.”
Still, we know it’s not in a big capacity, at least not until far down the road. He’s moving to the other side of the country, and hanging up his cleats in large part so that he can spend more time with his family. Maybe when the kids are in college and he finds himself with a competitive itch we’ll see him leaning on the dugout banister, but it won’t be anytime soon.
This isn’t impulsive
I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for a while that Posey might retire. I almost wrote about it, but I didn’t want to receive all the blame if it happened. I think I dodged a bullet there.
This is partly because, when Posey held a press conference before the restart of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, I had the fear that he might retire, and I never got over that.
But there were signs. Opting out last year was a reminder that neither baseball nor money were the most important thing in Posey’s life. The total absence of any rumors during the season that the Giants would turn his team option into an extension were a clue. Farhan Zaidi saying at the end of the season that Posey’s spot on the team was secure if he wanted it made my heart sink.
It turns out Posey was thinking that all along. He admitted to pondering retirement last year, and said that, “I kind of went into this last season feeling like it might be my last. I just gave myself some space in my mind to be OK with deciding otherwise, if I wanted to keep playing, and I just really never wavered.”
MadBum didn’t know
Those who suspected Posey’s career might be nearing an end often pointed to a poignant moment with Madison Bumgarner. The two faced off this season as competitors for the first time, and Posey gave Bumgarner a loving catcher’s mitt to the tush during an at bat. The whole thing felt very emotional.
Posey was asked if Bumgarner knew that was their final meeting, and Posey’s final season. He admitted to having discussed how he was feeling last winter with his longtime teammate and friend, but said that MadBum didn’t know that this would be the end.
He’s still got jokes
Posey’s stoicism and attempts to stay away from the microphone sometimes hide just how funny is, but he was quick to remind us.
Asked if he might ever do TV work, Posey responded sarcastically, “Yeah, I love to talk.” And while reminiscing about special moments in prior seasons, he said that Sergio Romo shaking off Posey’s multiple attempts to call a slider so that the righty could throw a fastball to Miguel Cabrera “still scares me.”
Farhan Zaidi offered a funny anecdote: when Bruce Bochy announced his retirement, Posey’s name was listed as long-shot odds to be the replacement as a player-manager. Zaidi texted that to Posey, who responded that, “I’m actually a better candidate than some of the people with better odds than me.”
He’s still Buster
Posey’s always shown humility and perspective, no matter how intense the stakes and how serious the competition. His press conference was no different. Despite admitting that he was still in a lot of pain, Posey refused multiple attempts to clarify how much his body impacted his performance, or how long that’s been going on for. He said he’d love to be in the Hall of Fame, but that it wasn’t something he was going to stick around to chase.
He said that wants his legacy to be faith, family, and how he treated people, and that “everything else falls into place.”
He loves the Giants
Posey said that he’ll “always be part of the Giants organization,” and, unprompted, added this wonderful nugget: “It’s not something you think about when you first join a Major League organization, but it doesn’t take long to realize that some are better than others.”
And just in case you have any question as to whether the Giants are one of those “better” organizations, Posey added that “Kristen and I and our kids are just so grateful that this was the organization that drafted us.”
He’s always been the consummate company man. But with no company left to do right by, it was abundantly clear that he meant every word.