Jorge Posada bid farewell to Major League Baseball and the only franchise he ever knew, ending a two-decade career for the New York Yankees that included five World Series championships.
Posada, 40, announced his retirement from baseball today, saying he didn’t have the desire to train for an 18th major-league season, one that may have left him wearing something other than Yankee pinstripes.
“I could never wear another uniform,” Posada said at a televised Yankee Stadium news conference. “Being a part of seven World Series and having five rings was something I’d never imagined. It was just priceless.”
Posada, a Puerto Rico native, leaves the game with a .273 career batting average, 275 home runs and 1,065 runs batted in. He played eight games in 1996, when the Yankees won their first World Series in 18 years. Along with shortstop Derek Jeter, starting pitcher Andy Pettitte and reliever Mariano Rivera, the Yankees also won World Series titles in 1998 through 2000 and 2009.
“He cared about winning, that’s the biggest thing,” Jeter said today in a televised interview. “He didn’t care about personal accolades.”
Pettitte left New York for three seasons in Houston from 2004 to 2006 before returning. Posada, Jeter and Rivera became the first trio of players in U.S. major sports league history to play at least one game together in 17 straight seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Posada was drafted in 1991 to become a second baseman and was converted to catcher that summer.
“I thought it was the worst decision ever,” he said, discussing his early mistakes behind the plate. “It was not a pretty sight.”
He made his first big-league appearance in 1995 and went on to become a five-time All-Star. Posada caught 1,574 games, third on the Yankees’ all-time list behind Hall of Fame members Bill Dickey (1,708) and Yogi Berra (1,695). Last season he became the first major leaguer since Johnny Bench in 1983 to catch at least one game with the same club in 17 consecutive seasons.
Posada ranks seventh in franchise history in doubles with 379, eighth in games with 1,829 and home runs, and 11th in RBI. He also caught David Wells’ perfect game in 1998, at the time the 15th in major-league history.
“That day was magical,” he said today, reflecting on his favorite moments.
Last season Posada batted .234 with 14 homers and 44 RBI, improving after a sub-par first two months. Having been moved to the designated hitter position for the 2011 campaign, he was batting .165 on May 15 when he asked to be scratched from a game against the Boston Red Sox after being dropped to the ninth spot in the batting order.
Posada at first told reporters that minor stiffness in his back led him to the decision. He later apologized, saying, “I just had a bad day.” He received a standing ovation from the New York fans the next time he stepped to the plate.
Posada said he told his agents not to consider offers from other major-league clubs to extend his career.
“It wasn’t in me,” he said. “I knew in my heart and I knew in my head that I really didn’t want to play anymore.”
Posada said he has no future business plans.
“I want to spend time with the family,” he said. “I haven’t had a summer with them.”
Posada becomes eligible for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in five years. He wouldn’t speculate on his chances.
“When you compare me to people in the Hall of Fame --we’ll see,” he said. “I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen.”