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Buster Posey goes out on top

An all-time great is leaving the game on his terms

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants - Game One Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Since Madison Bumgarner got Salvador Perez to pop out in foul territory, so much of Giants fandom has been about saying goodbye. Tim Lincecum made 15 more starts before a comebacker unceremoniously ended his career in San Francisco. Matt Cain pitched for two more seasons after Lincecum left before got a proper sendoff. Two years after that, Madison Bumgarner got sent up to the plate for one last at-bat and a chance to tip his cap. With each departure, the golden age of Giants baseball slipped further and further into the past.

At least it did until Buster Posey returned from a year off, two years removed from hip surgery that threatened to end his career, and hit two home runs in his first game back. When I tweeted, “HE IS RISEN” after his first homer, I wasn’t joking entirely. Posey resurrected and brought upon a franchise-record 107-win season that ended too soon.

Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner were integral parts of the Giants’ championship corps, but Posey was there for all of their greatest moments, lifting them up (sometimes literally). Without Posey, there is no dynasty. That’s what makes this last goodbye the hardest.

12 years after he arrived, Buster Posey is retiring. The three-time World Series champion wants to spend more time with his family. He also said that “things were not as joyful” because of the physical toll the game had taken on his body. As much as I want to keep watching Posey play, I can’t in good conscience ask him to keep entertaining me if it’s subtracting from his joy.

In my lifetime, no other Giant consistently brought joy to the baseball field like Posey. From when he took over for Bengie Molina in 2010 to when he took Walker Buehler deep in Game 1, watching Posey play was always a delight. Without hyperbole, I can say that Buster Posey delivered the most exciting moment of my life. Getting married in September was great and all, but nothing could match the delirious euphoria of watching Posey hit a grand slam off Mat Latos in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS.

During Posey’s retirement ceremony, Farhan Zaidi said the Giants were lost without Posey in 2020. It’s hard to imagine Giants baseball without him, but Posey echoed the old saying, “The game moves on without you.” Posey was part of the Giants’ best years in San Francisco, but the good times aren’t over. They’re just going to be different.

I don’t imagine that I’ll ever be so lucky to watch another Giant quite like Buster Posey. There might be better hitters, better catchers, or better leaders, but not anyone who can do it all. Buster Posey’s career was brilliant, if too short, and I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

Kenny Kelly is the managing editor of Beyond the Box Score.