Thank You, Buster

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A few weeks ago, one of my best friends in the world, Buster Posey, decided to call it a career.

Buster’s a Giants legend, obviously. Three world championships, seven All-Star Games, an MVP season, a batting title, five Silver Sluggers, three no-hitters caught, and on and on. He’s one of the greatest players in baseball history.

But Buster Posey, for me, first and foremost … he’s my friend.

Buster Posey, for me, first and foremost … he’s my friend.Brandon Crawford

Not long after he called me up to let me know he was going to retire, I knew I wanted to do something to show my gratitude and pay tribute to him. I needed to take some time to let it sink in, though. To get my thoughts together. I wanted to make sure I did this right. Because writing out something like this … let’s just say it’s not in my wheelhouse. So I’m going to do my best to get my points across here, but please stick with me if it doesn’t come out perfect or whatever.

I want to start out by saying how happy I am for my friend, because I know he’s completely content with this decision and is now going to be able to spend more time with his family.

Buster loves baseball for sure — loves the Giants, his teammates, our fans — but to be honest with you, that pales in comparison to how much he loves his family. And I truly admire and respect him for that.

Kristen and those kids, they’ve been his top priority from Day One. And that’s never changed over the years.

It’s awesome to know that he and Kristen are going to be able to experience so many cool family milestones together as the kids grow up. All the memories that he’ll be making at home — while his former teammates are off ordering bad takeout in some hotel all the way across the country — that’s something you really can’t put a price tag on.

So, at the end of the day, I’m mainly just super happy for my friend.

Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee/AP Photo
Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee/AP Photo

At the same time, though, it’s definitely going to be tough not having him around. It won’t be the same.

Buster’s been there my entire professional career. We were part of the same 2008 Giants draft class. And we go back even further than that. We actually played against each other in a summer tournament in high school, so we go all the way back to 2004. He was on Team Georgia, and I was on Team California. This was before either of us had gotten too much hype, and I won’t say who won, but I distinctly remember him being on the other team because, well….

You don’t forget a name like Buster Posey.

There just aren’t too many Busters walking around these days.

We crossed paths again four years later during rookie ball in Scottsdale and then played our first full season in the minors together in San Jose. Right away, I could tell he was going to be an exceptional player. Everyone who watched him could tell.

His talent as a hitter was clear as day. And because I was always at shortstop, playing behind him, I had as good a view as anybody at the passion and skill he brought to the catcher’s position. I saw how he was able to work with all different types of pitchers, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and then partner with them to give our teams the best shot to win. You could almost see his brain working sometimes when it came to pitch selection and setting guys up, and it was just a very cool thing to watch.

But what really stood out to me was how Buster went about his business. How he carried himself, and prepared, and worked, and … just the mindset he took out onto the field every day.

It was like the guy was a walking baseball clinic or something, the perfect example of how to do everything the right way when it comes to playing the game.

Buster loves baseball for sure — loves the Giants, his teammates, our fans — but to be honest with you, that pales in comparison to how much he loves his family.Brandon Crawford

Buster’s someone who never seeks attention or praise. In fact, he actually prefers not to be the center of attention. He always just wanted to do his job and help his team win baseball games.

And what I started to notice, both in the minors and early on in my career with the Giants, was that his approach to the game, and the seriousness and attention to detail that he showed … that stuff trickles down to everyone on his team.

When you see your catcher, your leader, showing up every day with a singular focus of doing everything he can do to help his team win, without wanting any credit for it? When it’s not about ego? When it’s like: “This is what I’m supposed to do. This is my job. And I’m going to do it as well as I can”?

That perspective is contagious.

It’s definitely how I approach the game, too. And I could tick off a bunch of other guys who are the exact same way — Brandon Belt, Matt Cain, and on and on. So the younger players who join the Giants, they’ve seen the leaders on this team be that way for years. They just hop on the train, and it keeps rolling.

I honestly think Buster’s approach to the game is what you’d point to as the definition of “Giants baseball” during his time in the Bay. That’s the brand of baseball we played.

He was like the walking embodiment of the San Francisco Giants.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One thing everyone talks about with Buster, of course, is how he’s always super calm and remains even-keeled at all times. He doesn’t get too high or too low, and never lets his emotions get the best of him.

But some of the Buster memories I cherish most are the ones where that emotion actually did sneak out somehow. In fact, what is maybe my all-time favorite Buster Posey moment is an example of that.

2012. NLDS. During what ends up being an absolutely magical run to the world championship. We lose the first two games to the Reds, but fight back to force a winner-take-all Game 5. And Giants fans, you remember this well, I’m sure. I don’t need to tell you guys that what Buster did in that game was special.

You guys know.

Goose bumps, right? Just straight up goose bumps.

But, for me, it’s not even the homer, or the clutch-ness of it that sticks in my mind the most. It’s Buster’s emotion and excitement and just his.…

Joy.

After he hit that grand slam against Latos, he was definitely fired up.

What I remember most about it is Buster rounding the bases and getting to home plate where the three guys he drove in were waiting for him, and then Buster just slapping the s*** out of their hands. And then him coming down into the dugout and doing the same thing to all the rest of us in there because he was so jacked up about giving us a six-run lead in such a big game.

And that last part, that right there is the key here. Because why he was fired up is really what makes it a signature Buster Posey moment for me. It wasn’t about, “Hey, look at what I just did.” This wasn’t one of those deals where a guy hits a huge home run, watches it, does a bat flip, then takes 60 seconds to circle the bases. This wasn’t that kind of emotion. It honestly wasn’t even about him.

With Buster, it was always all about the team.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

So, yeah, it goes without saying that the Giants are going to miss Buster Posey.

It’s going to be difficult not having him out there leading the charge next season. It’ll be different for sure.

But, again, for me, the toughest part about this is going to be not seeing my friend for 162-plus days of the year. Not having those conversations, those moments that all good friends share — the little inside jokes, the laughs, the companionship. We’ve played together for so long, been through so much together. So, over the years, all those things have become part of what playing baseball means to me.

Even just sharing stories about our kids every day in the clubhouse — the dad stuff — as lame as it might sound, I’m really, really going to miss that.

Our families are super close. I’ve been to a bunch of his kids’ birthday parties. Our wives are good friends. When you play with somebody for such a long time, and your personalities are so similar, that person pretty much becomes like family. And I know we’ll still stay in contact, and hang out, but yeah … it’s gonna be tough.

You know what, though? Enough of me getting all emotional over here. Let me just end by saying this.

Buster Posey absolutely loved the San Francisco Giants. And every time he ran out onto the field in that Giants uniform, he gave all he had for this team and our fans. He’s a Giants legend, an all-timer for sure.

Buster was a special player. And he’s an even more special human being.

A few years from now, it’s going to be so cool to see my friend enshrined in Cooperstown, and then to visit the Hall of Fame and see that bronze bust of him wearing the San Francisco Giants cap.

I mean, you want to talk about special?

And lastly, Buster, if you happen to be reading this, I just want you to know that I am so proud of you, and that your friendship means the world to me.

I miss you already.