“Nobody impacted the game this past decade more than Buster”: Bochy, Bench, Zaidi and the baseball world react to Posey’s retirement

SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey announced his retirement after 12 seasons with the San Francisco Giants. No one, arguably, has watched his career as closely as former Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

To Bochy, Posey’s legacy as one of the greatest Giants in franchise history should have him as a lock in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

“His body of work, nobody impacted the game this past decade more than Buster on both sides of the ball,” Bochy said after Posey’s retirement announcement on Thursday. “Being a catcher, handling a staff, winning three world championships and what he did offensively. And that’s how I look at a guy that goes into the Hall of Fame. That’s how much he impacted the game.”

Bochy knew he had a special player the first time he saw him as a 23-year-old rookie game planning with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and a prolific Giants pitching staff en route to a World Series title in 2010.

“From that point on, he was someone I relied on,” Bochy said. “He gave me great advice. I was fortunate that for 10 years I had one of the best all-around catchers in the game.”

Posey’s manager for 10 of his 12 big league seasons, a probable future Hall of Famer himself, wasn’t the only baseball luminary to heap praise on the catcher in the wake of his retirement announcement.

Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench chimed in to praise Posey and his accomplishments.

“Say it ain’t so!” Bench said in a tweet. “I respect him so much for walking away to be with his family. One of the best signal callers to handle a pitching staff I’ve ever seen. It’s been 13 years since he won my Catchers Award, he’s an award winner again. What a career! Happy retirement Buster Posey.”

In his retirement at age 34, Posey opted out of the team option on his contract worth $22 million. Playing through pains after ankle surgery in 2011 and hip surgery in 2018 played a primary role in pulling Posey away from playing at least one more year, he said.

Posey leaves baseball having bookended his career with a World Series title — followed by two more — and a franchise-record 107-win season in 2021. Posey admitted he knew the 2021 season would be his last before it began. A year off spent with family, including two newborn twin girls in 2020 amid the pandemic was the final push. Doubt still lingered after a disappointing 2019 season, so Posey wanted to use this last season to prove to himself he could still compete at a big league level.

He batted .304 with a .889 OPS and 18 home runs, his most since 2015. A performance that satisfied Posey, but left those in the Giants front office hoping for more. Giants president of baseball operations jokingly asked Posey if he was sure he wanted to retire before praising him for helping lead the team to its first postseason since 2016.

“I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for everything you’ve meant to this organization,” Zaidi said.

The Giants exec said he was “rattled” by the fan response to his hiring in 2018, with some people calling the former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager a mole or claiming he was too numbers-oriented. And that he felt settled when Posey reached out to him for a one-on-one meeting.

Many of Posey’s former teammates that didn’t watch his retirement announcement in person reacted on social media and elsewhere.

Former Giants pitcher Barry Zito, a 2012 postseason hero, posted a thread on Twitter praising Posey’s level-headedness and poise in high-pressured situations behind and at the plate.

“You were 60 feet from me in my greatest and worst moments in baseball,” Zito tweeted. “Your levelheaded approach to the game inspired me and every other player that set foot in those Giants locker rooms through the years. I bet you had no idea.”

In a radio segment on KNBR, reliever Sergio Romo, who shook Posey’s slider call off for a World Series-clinching fastball to Miguel Cabrera in 2012, said he could see the retirement coming.

“During all these celebrations they had this year, Buster was the only one staring out and seeing everything happening for what exactly it’s worth was to him,” Romo said. “He was taking everything in. What if, in his head, he was like man, I’m going to give this up.”

Infielder Mauricio Dubon grew up watching Posey as a fan and learned from him as a Giants player over the last two years.

“It crazy to think. Remember watching the first game and now you’re done with a hall of fame career,” Dubon said in a tweet. “Unreal leader and unreal person. I’m so honor to share the field with you Buster. I can tell my kids and grandkids I played with you. Thank you as a fan and teammate.”


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