Frankly, on the afternoon of March 21, 2009, I really wasn’t sure who Buster Posey was.
Sure, he had been the Giants’ first-round draft choice the year before and the name had filtered through every fan’s head, but as the line-ups were introduced at Phoenix Municipal Stadium for the exhibition game between the Giants and A’s, I confess to snickering a little. Buster Posey? Did they just say Wayne Housie? Ray Cosey? Post Toasties?
Just to the left of home plate, a group of fans who seemed at distance to be college age or just a little older, did more than laugh at the unfamiliar name. They serenaded him. Cries of “Bus-ter!” alternated with a Yankee Stadium-like chant of “Bus-ter Po-sey!” This was not a bunch of adoring kids performing the incantation of their favorite’s name. They were making fun of him, big-time. And they never stopped. Posey, of course, never even let on that he heard them, which would have required him to have total hearing loss.
But Buster Posey was wearing number 28 in his first major league training camp and was catching a pretty good game. He was athletic and agile and the A’s made a major league mistake trying to double-steal on him in the third inning – he nailed Jason Giambi at third base with a perfect strike that would’ve gotten Giambi from about 150 feet.
But the serenading continued. And then it happened. In the seventh inning, Posey got hold of a pitch from Russ Springer and made it disappear into the Arizona sky, high and far over the 410-foot sign in left-centerfield. And as he trotted in from third base, Buster Posey acknowledged the little group that had been deriding him all afternoon. He stared at them, tipped his helmet, and froze them into silence. It was impressive enough that I wrote it down in my scorebook.
And as the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants – who would be sitting at home with the rest of us if not for Buster Posey – continue to celebrate in Arlington, I keep wondering where those guys are now who were taunting him then…and what they’re thinking.