On October 4th 1995, or should I say October 5th, since by then Game 2 of the 1995 American League Division Series had stretched past midnight into the wee hours of the morning, the Yankees and Mariners were locked in a nail biting duel that saw the Bombers fall behind their West Coast rivals by one run in the top of the 12. In the bottom part of that inning, after future Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson struck out Randy Velarde to lead off the bottom of the twelve, future Hall of Famer and Yankee third baseman Wade Boggs stepped to the plate. After battling Nelson, Boggs got the best of him and worked out an important walk that would later become the tying run in the now nascent Yankee rally that extended this postseason classic another 3 innings. But before that run would come around and score, the then cerebral Yankee Manager Buck Showalter decided to take a gamble and take out Boggs in favor of a pinch runner Yankee prospect, who was a September call up and was kept in the roster once postseason started. That prospect was Jorge Posada. As everyone knows Posada came around to score the game tying run after Ruben Sierra took a Tim Belcher pitch into the left field corner, a ball that on a warm day would have definitely landed in the lower left field seats at the renovated Yankee Stadium. When Posada scored the tying run, Bernie Williams was behind him, but a great defensive relay by the Mariners stopped Bernie from scoring the winning run, and so the game continued. This classic game, that ended with Jim Lyritz dramatic two run home run, was only the second appearance by Jorge Posada in a Yankees uniform, but it was also a glimpse into the successful postseason future that Posada would become a part of.
Of course it would take three more years before Posada became a mainstay in the Yankee backstop, and when given the opportunity to split catching duties, Posada, like most of the members of the famed “Core 5” made the most of it. In 1998, Posada caught David Wells’ perfect game, going down in history with his battery mate as the 13 duo to accomplish baseball immortality. Although not a great defensive catcher by any stretch, Posada that day called the game of his life. “I was so nervous,” he would say after the game, not understanding that the result of the game would propel him into becoming the full time starting catcher. When future Yankee Manager Joe Girardi left the Yankees as a free agent in 1999, Posada inherited the starting position, a position he held until 2010. In his first season as a starter, Posada lead the Yankees to a second straight World Series Championship, a feat that would be repeated the next year when the Yankees defeated their cross-town rival Mets for a third straight World’s Championship and 4th championship in 5 years. Overall, Posada would play in 7 World Series, yet his biggest moment in the post season, in my opinion, was his clutch game tying double in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS off Yankee nemesis Pedro Martinez. That game was just one example of Posada’s ability to come through in the clutch when his team needed a big at bat. Over his 17 year career, Posada gave many Yankee fans thrills they will never forget. Just last September, with his appearances down to pinch hitting duties, it was in that roll that Posada, with an RBI single led the Yankees to the American League East title. Although primarily a player that came off the bench last season, Posada had a knack for providing the Yankees with big hits. Yet his final postseason series with the Yankees will cement his legacy as a great Yankee. In the ALDS against the Tigers, Posada was the best Yankee in the lineup. He lead the Yankees in hitting during the series, posting .429 batting average, and a spectacular .579 OBP.
Thus Jorge Posada is part of a winning Yankee legacy and part of a dynasty that Yankee fans will probably never see again. And so today, with a heavy heart, Posada says goodbye to the organization, the city and fans that allowed him to become the baseball player he dreamed about while growing up in his native land of Puerto Rico. His retirement also marks the end of a career of another player that was the backbone of the late 90’s Yankees dynasty that now leaves Yankee fans with only Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Jorge Posada will be missed.