When Buster Posey sat down at the podium Thursday in his blue suit, he began his retirement speech by thanking the woman sitting to the right of him. The usually reserved Giants legend found himself getting emotional when speaking about his wife, Kristen, who has been there every step of the way from Lee County High School games in Georgia to his time at Florida State, his short stint in the minor leagues and his 12 seasons as a San Francisco Giant that has him cemented next to franchise icons.
"A lot of you out there probably know my first instinct is not to run and get behind a microphone, but as I thought about what I wanted to say today, I realized it's such a unique opportunity to publicly thank so many people that helped me get here, helped me stay here and fulfill a lifelong dream playing Major League Baseball," Posey said as he started his opening remarks.
Posey then thanked everyone from his parents to his kids, his agent, his teammates and coaches, the training staff and the front office. The list goes on and on.
He certainly didn't forget who he played in front of for a dozen years -- the fans.
"The last week to 10 days, I've been thinking, how do you thank a fan base?" Posey pondered. "The Giants' fan base is more than just fans, it's a community. And that sense of community is something we as players can feel in the ballpark when we took the field each night. I also hope it's worked the other way.
"I hope over the years, you've been able to see in our teams a sense of pride that we've all taken in coming together each night and each day working hard with a common goal and pushing each other along the way. And thinking back oddly, some of the best times when you look back on them are the challenging times. When you're going through them, they don't tend to be very fun but when you get on the other side of them you realize that's when you've truly grown.
"I think that's one of the best things about sports and hopefully something a lot of fans can identify with as well."
As he spoke about the fans, Posey recognized so many grew up just as his career grew too. He made his Giants debut during my senior year of high school. I was 18, he was 22. He's hanging up his spikes just over three months after I married my own high school sweetheart. I'm now 30.
What made Posey's retirement speech hit home is that same sense of growing up while understanding it really is over. I thought about my own final college baseball game, walking off the field dazed by reality before breaking down when I saw my dad. It was over, on came the tears.
Sure, Posey gave us countless moments to remember. Buster Hugs will always be brought up. So will his grand slam off Cincinnati Reds star Mat Latos in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS and his three World Series rings. Even his final home run, a near splash hit in Game 1 of the 2021 NLDS off of Los Angeles Dodgers ace Walker Buehler will be watched on replay.
But with Buster, it has always been about more than moments. Feelings hold more weight anyways.
When he struggled in 2019 and only hit five home runs in 2018, fans didn't feel anger. They felt sadness. They saw the physical toll that was taking away the powers of one of the greatest to ever strap on catcher's gear.
They felt proud when Posey walked away in 2020 to help Kristen take care of their adopted twin girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, he was missed on the field, and even more off it for the rest of the franchise in the clubhouse and beyond. For once, though, even fans could put baseball to the side.
That was their guy and their leader doing the right thing when so many others around the world weren't.
Posey rightfully put family and his body first in deciding to retire. He wanted to prove to himself that he could still perform at the highest level upon returning this year and exceeded anyone's expectations with one of the best seasons of his storied career. He gave one last year of memories that will last a lifetime and move onto the next wave of fans.
What more could you ask for.
"To the fans, thank you for all your support I've received the last 13 seasons, and I look forward to creating new memories of my own with family and friends as I pull for the Giants the rest of my life," Posey said as he concluded his speech.
Build the statue. We're ready for so many more Buster Hugs, just this time in bronze.