First Person Story by Jorge Posada — in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine
By Alfred Santasiere III
August 3, 2015 — A few months before I traveled to Puerto Rico with Jorge Posada for a story in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine on the catcher’s upbringing (see blog entry below), I sat down with him in South Florida for another feature.
In early January, I met Posada for lunch in Coral Gables. During the three hours we spent together, Posada shared memories of his journey from Calhoun Community College in Alabama through his final days in pinstripes.
Posada’s first-person story will be published in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine. Of course, on August 22, the Yankees will be dedicating a Monument Park plaque to Posada and retiring his number.
Not long after we sat down, Posada discussed his earliest days in the Yankees organization.
“As a 24th-round draft choice, there was no guarantee that I would someday make it to the majors,” he said. “But I always had a strong belief in myself and a great work ethic. When you’re in Triple-A, you realize that you’re one step away, and you start thinking about who’s ahead of you. At that time, Mike Stanley was the starting catcher, and Jim Leyritz was there, but there wasn’t anyone who had much of a chance to leapfrog me. I knew it was just going to be a matter of time before I was in New York.”
A short while later, the former catcher shared what he considers to be the most difficult experience of his life.
“The 2001 season was a great year for me on the field, but it was an incredibly hard time for me off the field,” Posada began. “My son, Jorge, was born in 1999 with craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which the joints in his skull closed prematurely and before the brain was fully formed. In the summer of 2001, he had his second of 11 surgeries, but during that one, he got a serious infection. The surgery was a complete failure, and he was in the hospital [in New York City] for about a month and a half.
“I slept at the hospital on the night of Sept. 10,” Posada continued as his eyes welled up. “On the morning of Sept. 11, Jorge wanted to watch a kid’s show that we had on tape. As I was rewinding the tape, the news was on, and they were showing images of a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers. I walked over to the window, and I saw the second plane hit the other tower. I walked out into the hallway and asked the nurse if she could unhook all of the tubes that Jorge was hooked up to because I thought that I had to get him out of there. I thought that the whole city was going to be under attack. A few minutes later, they began bringing beds downstairs to the emergency room because they were anticipating a lot of people coming in, but no one came in. It really hit me when one of the nurses said, ‘There’s no wounds; no one’s hurt. People are just dead.’”
About a half hour after Posada told me that compelling story, our conversation reverted back to baseball, and he took me through his game-tying, eighth-inning hit in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series against Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox [which the Yankees ultimately won.]
“I was glad that I would have the chance to face Pedro with the game on the line,” Posada said. “In the brawl at Fenway Park a few days earlier, Pedro pushed [Yankees coach] Don Zimmer to the ground, and I didn’t like that. Pedro didn’t need to do that. I was screaming at Pedro, and he pointed to his head, saying that he was going to throw a pitch at my head. I was very angry at Pedro for the way he acted, and I wanted revenge.
“With a 2–2 count, he threw a fastball on the inside corner of the plate,” Posada continued. “I swung at it, and it broke my bat. The ball landed in between second base and center field, and both runners scored. As I was standing on second base, I felt like a lot of pressure was lifted off my shoulders. I had gotten revenge, and it was very gratifying.”
During a visit to Yankee Stadium this summer, chief photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht snapped a portrait of Posada for the opening spread of the story (below). The photo was taken on the suite level of the current Stadium, and the view in the background is the site of old Yankee Stadium — where Posada played for many seasons.
For the rest of the story about Posada’s legendary career — in his own words — be sure to pick up a copy of the August Issue of Yankees Magazine.
— Alfred Santasiere III