When the New York Yankees called up Jorge Posada from the Triple-A Columbus Clippers in 1995, then starting catcher Mike Stanley told a young Posada, “when I leave, you should wear my number.” Aside from being issued numbers 62, 41, 55 and 22, during the 1997 season, Posada finally settled on No. 20. In a borderline Hall of Fame career, Posada was the fire, heart and passion of the Yankee pinstripes.
Hip hip Jorge! Georgie juiced one! A star and a true grinder, who wore catching gear but no batting gloves. As the Yankees retired Posada’s No. 20 in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium, we look back at Jorge’s top five moments, in a career which spanned from 1995-2011.
5. May 17, 1998 catches David Wells’ perfect game –
Yes, one may argue this was more of a Wells moment but hear me out. To me, this game was a statement about Posada’s ability to call a game and lead a pitching staff. Still relatively early in his major-league career, proving he could navigate a game of this magnitude behind the dish, cemented Posada’s game calling ability and showed he belonged. It was one of those jumping off points if you will. On that afternoon, Wells fanned eleven and only had three three-ball counts on his way to perfection.
4. April 16, 2009 first home run at the new Yankee Stadium –
It was a game both memorable and forgettable. The first game in the new Yankee Stadium but also a disappointing 10-2 loss against the Cleveland Indians. While one may argue Posada had more pivotal home runs and game winning hits, this milestone is rare and will live on forever. Regardless of whether or not the Yankees make as much history in the new house as they did in the one across the street, Posada will always be the first Bronx Bomber who went deep at the new place. In the fifth inning, Posada homered to center, off Cliff Lee. George Herman “Babe” Ruth was the first to go yard in the original Yankee Stadium and Jorge Rafael (Villeta) Posada became the first to do so in the new digs. Pretty rare and special company.
3. May 16, 2006 walk off HR against Texas Rangers 14-13-
This game may have defined everything about Jorge Posada. Posada left it all out on the field in this one and displayed the talent, tenacity, toughness and grind it out ability which showcased how he played. During this contest, a wild 14-13 walk off win by the Yankees, Posada went 2-for-3 with five-RBI and a two-run walk off home run to right-center, off Akinori Otsuka in the ninth. It was a game in which the Yankees came back from early 9-0 and 10-1 deficits, as well as trailing 13-12 in the ninth. Posada was also able to hang in there after future teammate Mark Teixeira barreled into him in a home plate collision.
2. ALDS 2001 Game 3 –
I know this is supposed to be five moments but this one game had multiple moments. One may argue this is the Derek Jeter flip game and or a brilliant outing by Mike Mussina. Yet, Posada was instrumental in every crucial play, in what was an elimination game on the road. How tight was this contest? The Yankees won 1-0 and only garnered a pair of hits. Posada helped guide Mussina through seven scoreless frame and Mariano Rivera for the final two. It was also Posada providing the punch, hammering a solo home run off Barry Zito in the fifth frame, staking the Bombers to a 1-0 advantage. Of course in the seventh there was a huge game saving play in the seventh. Terrence Long ripped a hit down the line in right, Shane Spencer scooped it up and threw the ball over the head of Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter swooped in and in a one motion running sprint, flipped the ball to Posada at home and Posada applied the inning ending tag on Jeremy Giambi’s leg to preserve the lead.
1. ALCS 2003 Game 7 –
Is there a better timeless freeze frame image which captures the intensity of Posada than the sight of him pumping his fists at second base during the eighth inning of the ALCS Game 7 in 2003? While this game is better known for the Aaron Boone walk off pennant clinching home run, Posada came up huge and exacted payback against Pedro Martinez. With the Yankees down 5-2 to start the frame, Posada capped off the scoring with a game-tying, two-run double to center, knotting the contest at 5-5. In a lot of ways it was a defining hit for Posada, who was clutch, gritty, a grinder and a winner.