Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Yankees' Jorge Posada retires
By Andrew Marchand ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- With tears filling his eyes, Jorge Posada announced his retirement from baseball on Tuesday. Posada began the press conference by reading from a prepared statement, calling his experience as a Yankee "priceless."
An emotional Jorge Posada closed the book on his 17-year career, saying he no longer had the desire to continue playing.
He thanked many in and outside the Yankees organization, including his wife, Laura, whom he called his "rock." When he got to his teammates, he briefly cried as he spoke about his best friend, shortstop Derek Jeter.
"Hopefully, you won't miss me that much," Posada said to Jeter, who was in attendance.
With the Yankees not showing interest in re-signing him, Posada said he didn't consider signing with any other teams.
"I knew in my heart and I knew in my head I didn't want to play anymore," Posada said.
Posada recounted how he entered Yankee Stadium each day with the same thought in his head.
"I quoted Joe DiMaggio's (famous quote), 'I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee,' " Posada said.
Posada sat at a dais flanked by his wife and his children, Jorge Jr. and Paulina. To his right were five world championship trophies, four of which Posada helped the Yankees win. Jeter, closer Mariano Rivera, ace CC Sabathia and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner were among those in attendance.
After Posada finished his opening statement, Diana Munson, the widow of Yankees great Thurman Munson, spoke. She credited Posada for inspiring her to watch baseball again. Posada had considered Thurman Munson, who died in 1979 when the plane he was piloting crashed in Ohio, a hero.
Diana Munson said she now has loved two Yankees catchers in her life.
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"I think he and Thurman would have been best buds," Munson said.
Posada, 40, played 17 seasons, all with the Yankees. He finished with a .273 average, 275 home runs and 1,065 RBIs in 1,829 games. Most of them were under manager Joe Torre, whom Posada called a "father" figure for him.
Posada is one of only five catchers all-time with 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 275 homers and 1,000 RBIs; Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk and Ivan Rodriguez are the other four. Posada ends his career as the first catcher since Bench to play 17 consecutive seasons with the same team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Of all the catchers in the Hall of Fame, only Yogi Berra has better numbers in all three major categories (average, homers and RBIs). Fisk, for example, had 376 homers, but his .269 average was worse than Posada's. There are currently 13 catchers in the Hall of Fame, with Mike Piazza on the ballot next year.
Posada finished with the eighth most home runs in Yankees history.
In 1990, the Yankees drafted Posada in the 24th round. Originally an infielder before being moved to catcher, Posada made the All-Star team five times at the position.
Last year, Posada played only one game behind the plate as he shuttled in and out of the lineup, mostly as the designated hitter. He ended the season with a .235 average, 14 homers and 44 RBIs. He did have big moments, though, clinching the AL East title at home with an RBI single. In the Yankees' five-game ALDS loss to the Detroit Tigers, Posada was one of the only Yankees to hit, batting .429.
While Jeter and Rivera were present for the festivities, the Yankees released statements from many of Posada's teammates -- from Bernie Williams to Andy Pettitte to Alex Rodriguez. Even the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, chimed in.
"Jorge Posada is a great Yankee and a great New Yorker," Bloomberg said. "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I congratulate him on his outstanding career and thank him for the invaluable contributions he's made to our city."
A Yankees public relations official said that there were more media in attendance for the press conference than any in the three-year history of the new Yankee Stadium.
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.