PEBBLE BEACH – The name “Buster” alone reminds fans of the greatest era since the Giants moved out west in 1957.
While you had the Panda and the Freak, the first name – the face of the franchise – that surfaces when talking about the San Francisco Giants 2010-2014 dynasty run is Buster Posey.
Turning in his silver slugger bat for a golf club, the former catcher’s appearances this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am brought a sea of orange and black to the famed links.
“Golf is nerve-racking,” Posey said, smiling. “It’s a test. Part of being an athlete is repetition. It’s not the same for us non-golfers. You can’t take yourself too seriously out here. I’m not very good.”
Whether it was a sign of appreciation for helping the franchise win three World Series titles, or just the unwillingness to let go of the past, spectators paraded around Posey, with Giants’ orange becoming a dominant color in the gallery.
Even if his game wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked during Thursday’s opening round at Pebble Beach, Posey waved, smiled and seemed deeply humbled by the calls of his name.
“The last time I was here (in 2015) there were a ton of Giants fans,” said Posey, who retired after the 2021 season. “We were coming off that third World Series title. It was a special time.”
The 35-year-old former National League Most Valuable Player has gotten better, going from a 14 handicap the last time he was at the Pro-Am eight years ago to a five handicap.
With his last appearance coming after the Giants’ third World Series title in 2014, Posey finished sixth in the Pro-Am with partner Nick Watney – who is his partner this week as well.
Shades of the past graced the greens, from Posey jerseys to World Series jackets. Spectators had their cell phones out, hoping he would turn and look for a photo of the future Hall of Famer.
Chants of “Let’s go Giants’ cascaded on the 17th hole, while some spectators begged for Posey to come back to the Giants.
And to a degree, Posey has returned, with an ownership stake in the franchise. He hopes that he will have a future role on the instructional side – perhaps as a mentor – with the organization in spring training.
“I’m not sure what that might entail,” Posey said. “I think I’m going to stop in with the team in spring training. My older kids have fond memories of being there.”
Outside of a shade of gray along the sides of his hair, Posey still has that youthful face, with a smile that beamed like the sun off the Pacific Ocean.
Still chiseled on a 6-foot-1 frame, Posey looks like he could step in a batter’s box and send balls rocketing over the Oracle Park left-field fence.
Yet, he seems in a comfort zone launching golf balls 300 yards – even if they at times land in bunkers instead of the fairways, as was the case on a couple of occasions.
Of the four sports that Posey excelled in while in high school, golf was not one of them for the 2005 Georgia Gatorade and Louisville Slugger State Player of the Year in baseball.
Former Giants catcher Buster Posey sends a golf ball into the gray skies off the ninth tee at Pebble Beach pic.twitter.com/Byhoytl91c
— John Devine (@JohnJDevine) February 2, 2023
“I don’t even know what to do with this,” said Posey, after finding his ball in a bunker off his tee shot on the sixth hole.
When his next shot dribbled just a few yards out of the sand trap, Posey acted as if he left the batters’ box, using his club is knock the sand off his shoes.
In addition to an MVP award, Posey won five Silver Slugger awards, made seven all-star teams, was the Rookie of the Year and a two-time Comeback Player of the Year.
In his final season with the Giants, Posey hit .304 with 18 homers, leading them to a record 107-win season. He finished his 12-year career with a .302 average and 1,500 hits.
Recently selected to the Bay Area Hall of Fame, Posey had solid moments on the course as well, as his tee shot off the 17th hole brought a smile and a wave to spectators.
“We miss you Buster,” a woman in the gallery shouted, which was followed by ovations off the 17th hole that seemed to touch the soft-spoken Posey, who tipped his cap.
A rough first day at 17 at Pebble future Hall of Famer Buster Posey pic.twitter.com/usgRLCRoS1
— John Devine (@JohnJDevine) February 2, 2023
“It is very humbling,” said Posey, who will join former 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis and soccer icon Julie Foudy as part of the new inductees into the Bay Area Hall of Fame.
Having taken the 2020 season off after having adopted a pair of twins, Posey has not struggled to keep himself busy since his retirement with four kids in the house.
“Anyone who has had kids will tell you chasing around a 2-year-old is a full-time job,” said Posey, who has coached his older son’s Little League team. “I am always busy with my kids.”
In addition to becoming a principal partner with Giants ownership, Posey also is a member of the team’s Board of Directors.
One question that he gets constantly asked is which World Series title was his favorite?
“I honestly don’t have one,” Posey said. “All three were different, with different players. All three were special. I’m just so grateful I got to be a part of three World Series championships.”
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