Bronx, NY—In front of the largest crowd ever assembled in the Press Conference Room at Yankee Stadium, Jorge Posada emotionally announced the end of his career as a major league baseball player. After 17 years of wearing the Yankees pinstripes, Posada decided to end his playing days never having worn the uniform of another big league club.
The importance of the event to the organization was reflected by the number of its people who attended the conference. The top brass of the franchise, Hal and his sister, Jennifer Steinbrenner, Lonn Trost, Randy Levine, Brian Cashman and Jean Afternan, several teammates including Posada’s best friend, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, former Yankees players Willie Randolph and Gene Michael were all present to show their respect and support of the Yankees 17 year stalwart.
At the dais with Posada were his wife, Laura, and his son and daughter. Posada began his statement with a litany of thanks to those who made his career with the Yankees a reality. When speaking of his parents and sister, Posada chocked up with emotion. He did so again when he thanked his teammates.
The words of gratitude expressed by Posada were given to all he felt were responsible for his strength and his accomplishments. His biggest inspiration was his father, “I wouldn’t be here without him.” Of Derek Jeter, he said, “[He] made me stay focused and positive.” He told the group of season ticketholders who were present in the room to represent the fans, “You kept me going when I needed it the most.”
Posada spoke of his reasons for terminating his playing career at this time, “I’m tired. It’s a long season. I didn’t want to go through it [preparation for the season] anymore.” He explained that being behind the plate or batting solely as designated hitter was not the cause of terminating his career. He told several close to him last year that he planned for 2011 to be his final season. When asked if he thought he would, at some point, change his mind regarding retirement, he explained, “I don’t see myself coming back.”
Posada, by retiring, also ended any opportunity to play for another big league team. Of his everlasting ties to the Yankee organization, Posada stated, “I had the idea to go play somewhere else, but I knew, in my heart and in my head, I wouldn’t. I could never wear another uniform. I will forever be a Yankee.”
The emotional backstop has been in the Yankees organization since being drafted in 1990 while a teenage student at Calhoun Community College in Alabama. He met Core Four members Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte in 1991 and Derek Jeter in 1992 when all were Yankees minor leaguers. Of the bond between the four, Posada explained, “We grew up together. They’re like brothers.”
Since his childhood in his native Puerto Rico, Posada loved baseball and has been committed to participating in the sport as his career. Nothing discouraged him from achieving his goal, “I always thought I would make it [to the major leagues] as a kid and in the minors.”
Posada looked back in time to recount the moments that were most memorable to him. On a positive note, he listed first coming to the team during the 1995 season, catching the Perfect Game pitched by David Wells in 1998 and the moment of victory at the conclusion of the 1999 World Series.
There are negative moments in everyone’s life and career. Posada cited allowing three passed balls in a minor league game, early in his days as a catcher in 1991 and attempting to come back after an ankle injury in 1994.
Posada did not speak of any future job endeavors he was looking toward in the future. His only immediate concern was being able to spend more time with his wife and children, “I have no plans. I’ll rest and enjoy the summer with my children.”
The classy program of farewell for Posada was planned by Yankees Vice President and Director of Marketing Deborah Tymon. Every moment of the event brought forth good memories for all present and all viewing on television.
Heartfelt words of praise from the widow of former Yankees catcher Thurman Munson stirred the emotions, “This is the man who brought me back to baseball…after losing Thurman. I am so lucky to have loved two Yankees catchers.”
A mother with her son beside her spoke of the importance of the work done by Jorge and Laura Posada through their foundation, Jorge Posada Foundation, for families with children with craniosynostosis, the birth defect diagnosed in their son when he was 10 days old.
A moving video that featured Yankees fans paying tribute to Posada was shown. The feature, with its prominent inclusion of the fans displayed the organization’s realization of the importance of its supporters.
Posada will certainly return to Yankee Stadium. He will be a popular figure at future Old Timers’ Days. There should be a Jorge Posada Day in the near future. Possibly, there will one day be a local celebration of Posada’s election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.