Happy 40th Birthday to Jorge Rafael (Villeta) Posada. Born August 17, 1971 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, of Cuban émigré parents.
Jorge has been with the Yankee organization since May 24, 1991, making his major league debut on September 4, 1995, as a defensive replacement for catcher Jim Leyritz (no at-bats) in a 13-3 Yankee win over the Seattle Mariners at the old Yankee Stadium. Another rookie, Andy Pettitte, pitched 8 strong innings for the win. Still another rookie, Derek Jeter, was a late defensive replacement at shortstop for Tony Fernandez. Bernie Williams went 3-for-6, including a home run and 4 RBIs.
Jorge made only 15 plate appearances in the 1996 World Championship season, reaching base only twice (a single and a walk, though he did score a run) and there are those who suggest that he shouldn’t be considered one of the dynasty-starters of that season. He got in more games in 1997, and from 1998 to 2010 was the Yankees’ regular catcher. If you count 1996, he has played on 7 Pennant winners and 5 World Championship teams. He has made the All-Star team 5 times.
In 2003, a Pennant season for the Yankees, he finished 3rd in the American League Most Valuable Player voting, behind a player on a last-place team (Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers) and a player on a 3rd-place team (Carlos Delgado of the Toronto Blue Jays). Well, at least he can’t say it was an anti-Hispanic bias.
There are those who say that Jorge is finished. Certainly, this season he got off to one of the worst starts any Yankee regular has ever had. But even in a “bad year,” three-quarters finished, he has 10 home runs and 37 RBIs.
Top 10 Jorge Posada Moments
10. July 10, 2001, Safeco Field, Seattle. Jorge is introduced as a member of the American League All-Star Team. And out ran Jorge Posada, wearing his Yankee uniform, Number 20. Except it was Jorge Posada III, the catcher’s son, a shade over a year old, and with a grin that seemed to take up half the infield. Jorge the father came out next. A classic moment. Too bad Jorge III inherited his dad’s ears. I hope he also inherits his dad’s bat.
9. November 2, 2007, Yankee Stadium I, New York. Jorge signs a new contract with the Yankees, openly turning down an offer from the crosstown Mets, and gives a vote of confidence to his predecessor as Yankee catcher, Joe Girardi, as new Yankee manager. These were 2 great gestures that showed a great Yankee’s dedication to the team. (If you’re aware of my Arsenal fandom, and you think my mention of this means that I’m still mad about the Cesc Fabregas situation, and the as-yet-unresolved Samir Nasri situation, you’re right.)
8. October 18, 1998, Yankee Stadium I. Jorge hits his first World Series homer, taking Andy Ashby deep, assisting Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez, and giving the Yankees a 9-3 win over the San Diego Padres, in what turns out to be a Series sweep.
7. October 11, 2009, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis. Quite a season for Jorge, hitting the first home run in the new Yankee Stadium, and hitting the last home run in the Metrodome. In the top of the 7th inning, he homered to give the Yankees the lead over the Minnesota Twins in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, enabling the Yankees to sweep the series and close down a stadium most Yankee Fans hated.
6. September 21, 2008, Yankee Stadium I. Unable to play in the last game in the old Stadium, due to injury, Jorge was included in the game ceremonies, when he caught the ceremonial first pitch from Julia Ruth Stevens, daughter of the Babe. The Yankees, without Jorge’s further help – in fact, it was backup catcher Jose Molina who hit the old Stadium’s last home run – won the game, 7-3 over the Baltimore Orioles.
5. April 16-May 1, 2009, Yankee Stadium II, New York. Connecting himself further with Babe Ruth, who hit the first home run in the old Stadium, Jorge hits the first home run in the new Stadium. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost, 10-2. Three days later, the Stadium’s 4th game, I visited for the first time, and Jorge homered again, this time providing the margin of victory in a 7-4 Yankee win. On May 1, Jorge collected the first walkoff hit in the new Stadium, a single to beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 10-9.
4. October 26, 2000, Shea Stadium, New York. Jorge goes 1-for-3 with a walk, the walk coming in the 9th inning, and he scores an insurance run that finishes off the Mets, 4-2, as the Yankees win Game 5 and clinch the World Series. This was Jorge’s 3rd (or 4th) ring, and should have shut up any Met fan who thought that their catcher, Mike Piazza, was ever better.
3. May 17, 1998, Yankee Stadium I. Jorge catches David Wells’ perfect game. Joe Girardi caught Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter in 1996 and David Cone’s perfect game in 1999, but Boomer’s perfecto was Jorge’s.
2. October 16, 2003, Yankee Stadium I. Jorge’s double, the last in a string of 4 straight hits, brought the Yankees even with the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ACLS, and knocked Pedro Martinez out of the game.
It was especially appropriate that Jorge was the one to do this, since in Game 3, he and Pedro the Punk had been yelling at each other, Jorge from the Yankee dugout, Pedro from the Fenway Park mound, in Spanish so there could be no mistranslation. Jorge pointed to his head, as if to say, “You can’t do that! That’s felonious assault! Hell, that's attempted murder!” And Pedro pointed to his head and then to Jorge, as if to say, “Look, puto, if you want to be next, I can arrange it!”
Five days later, Jorge knocked him out of the game, which was won by Aaron Boone’s Pennant-clinching home run.
Now, how can you top that? Aside from doing what Boone did, that is. Actually, he did top it. By a lot.
1. January 21, 2000, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jorge marries Laura. (Jeter was Jorge’s best man.) If you’ve ever seen her (and I have – she looks just as phenomenal in person), then you know why this is Number 1. Laura is a model and fitness instructor. And a lawyer. Yeah, all that and brains, too. When Jorge III was born with craniosynotosis, the couple set up the Jorge Posada Foundation, to raise funds for research into this and other childhood disorders. Jorge III underwent what is expected to be his last corrective surgery earlier this year, and I suspect that this was weighing on his father’s mind and causing his slump. The Posadas also have a daughter, Paulina.
A shot of the whole family: http://www.askmen.com/galleries/laura-posada/picture-4.html
Is this going to be Jorge’s last season? It probably should be. So let us, all of us, him included, make the most of it. And he knows what “making the most of it” means. He’s been a part of that 5 times already.
And in case Squawker Lisa of Subway Squawkers (see link to the right) is reading this, she likes to quote the line that someone (I forget who) used: That, of the Yankees' 1996-2003 Dynasty, Jorge was "the Ringo." It must be because of the ears. Well, the Beatles would not have been the Beatles without Ringo Starr. Pete Best was not a good drummer!