The signs were there back in August. When Buster Posey—the greatest catcher in the history of the San Francisco Giants—was asked about his future with the team, he was non-committal. Posey simply said, “I’ll get to the end of the season and kind of assess at that point, talk to my wife and see where we are.”
Buster Posey Gave the Giants His All. Now, He’s Focusing on Family.
For most Giants fans, it didn’t even register. Posey has long felt so unequivocally ours that his departure hasn’t just seemed unthinkable to fans—it’s something most of us never even stopped to consider. The Giants are the only MLB team Posey has ever played for, and he has shown an unshakeable commitment to them since he arrived at age 22 in 2009. That commitment has been delivered right back to him by the fans.
In his retirement announcement, held at Oracle Park on Thursday afternoon, Posey said: “The last week to 10 days, I’ve been thinking, ‘How do you thank a fan base?’ And the Giants fanbase is more than just fans, it’s a community. That sense of community is something that we could feel in the ballpark each night. I hope it’s worked the other way.”
Posey was the last player we had left who’d helped win all three of the Giants’ World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Posey had distinguished himself in all three by not being one of the big personalities on the team. Instead, he was the respectable lynchpin at the center of the whirlwind—always calm, collected and controlled, no matter what was happening around him. And, over the years, as his wildcard teammates peeled off and defected (Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo to the Dodgers, Tim Lincecum to the Angels, Madison Bumgarner to the Diamondbacks, etc.) Posey has remained right here in San Francisco. Ol’ faithful.
Still, he gave us another hint that the end might be nigh, after the Giants had their World Series hopes dashed by the Dodgers on Oct. 14. After that game, Posey said, “I’m definitely going to take some time with my wife and talk with her. Be able to be a full-time dad of four kids for the first time in a while. Take it slow and see how things progress.”
With hindsight, we probably should’ve seen the writing on the wall. Posey has always been just as much of a family man as he was a dedicated ball player. After he married his high school sweetheart Kristen in 2009, the happy couple welcomed twins Addison and Lee in 2011. They adopted twin girls in 2020, and Posey sat out the short pandemic season, prioritizing his babies’ health over the danger of potentially contracting COVID-19 on the field. His younger girls, Ada and Livvi, were already up against it, having been born eight weeks premature. USA Today called Posey’s decision to stay home “a tremendous sacrifice.” But he himself noted, “From a family standpoint, making a decision to protect children—our children—it was relatively easy.”
Posey and his wife’s commitment to children stretches far beyond their own family. In 2016, they established BP28, a charity that raises funds and awareness for pediatric cancer. The organization has so far raised $5.5 million for treatment and research, and has established partnerships with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, North Carolina’s V Foundation and the Texas Children’s Hospital.
We can look at Posey’s astonishing baseball stats all day (and we should—it’s very satisfying), but it’s clear that this man has important goals off the field as well. Important enough to walk away from a $22 million option to stay on with the Giants. Since news leaked, late on Wednesday, that Posey was about to announce his retirement, fan responses have been sad, sure. But most of them have been rooted in pride and respect. That’s the result of Posey’s commitment to the San Francisco Giants on the field, and the compassionate way he lives his life off it. It’s born from his skills as a ballplayer, but also of his supreme likability as a human.
Fans might not want to see him go, but the gratitude held for Posey and what he did in the course of his career with the Giants is palpable today.
Posey’s former teammate Sergio Romo shared in an interview on Wednesday that he’d recently noticed a shift in Posey’s demeanor on the field. “This was something that was like, ‘Wow, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to walk home and do the family thing,’” Romo said. “Here he is. He is deciding to do the family thing. In a sense, it wasn't surprising, but it is surprising from a fan standpoint because the guy has a lot of baseball left, in my opinion.”
Tellingly, during Thursday’s press conference, Posey’s long list of thanks to everyone who’d helped him achieve his “lifelong dream of becoming a professional baseball player” started with his family. He struggled to hold back tears while talking about the love and support Kristen has offered him throughout his career. He told his children, “Being your dad is the greatest joy in my life.” Then he thanked his parents, “for teaching me the responsibility for caring for other people.”
Throughout his speech, though he referenced the Giants’ considerable achievements during his tenure, Posey’s focus remained on family. When thanking his teammates, he mentioned the “Good men, good husbands and good fathers” he had played alongside. And when he talked about baseball itself, he did so through the lens of what it means to the families and friends that attend the games.
“Baseball is a vessel that can be used to make wonderful memories,” Posey said, “but ultimately it's not what defines you.”