Two players who never failed to impress me during their long major league careers have retired in recent days: Jorge Posada, who played only for the Yankees, and Pat Burrell, who has World Series rings from the Phillies and Giants.
Through the past decade or so, Posada was my favorite Yankee. That’s probably because he fit the classic Yankee mode so perfectly, proud to wear the pinstripes, coming through in the clutch, never showy or boastful, loyal to the core.
I liked “Georgie,” as Joe Torre always called him, from the first time I saw him play untold seasons ago. He was ever-steady, at the plate and behind it. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and A-Rod grabbed the glory and headlines while Jorge kept his head down, handling a motley array of pitchers and always producing with his bat.
He’s earned his place in the Yankee pantheon, side by side with fellow catchers Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey.
The streaky playboy Burrell entered my baseball consciousness at an even vaguer time in my memory. But I distinctly remember taking notice when on a TV broadcast I saw him rake a couple of doubles off the wall in Veterans Stadium. “Who is this guy?” I asked myself, never expecting that he’d end up playing a pivotal role in San Francisco’s out-of-nowhere championship in 2010.
The longer that season went on, the more Burrell put a charge into the Giants 98-pound-weakling offense. No way would they have won without him, and his absence to injuries last season was one of many factors in the Giants’ drop-off .
And so a salutatory tip of the cap to Jorge and Pat the Bat, guys of different styles who played the game well.