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Endlessly Giant: Buster Posey Joins San Francisco Ownership Group

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Buster Posey had a captivating little habit as a hitter when he questioned an umpire’s call. Posey, who retired last fall after a dozen sterling seasons for the San Francisco Giants, was too polite to show and mouth off. He telegraphed his opinion with a slow, subtle movement of his head and, perhaps, a pained smile. An umpire attuned to subtext would get the message.

Posey gave respect and got it in return, traits that ought to assist in his latest post-career role within the Giants’ ownership group. The team will announce Wednesday that Posey, 35, has bought into the team and can serve on its board of directors.

“I would like to be viewed as, like, pro-baseball,” Posey said this week by phone from his home in Georgia. “I’m not pro-player, I’m not pro-owner, I just love the sport of baseball, and that is one other opportunity for me to learn more in regards to the game, more in regards to the business and really commit my time to a corporation in a city that I’ve grown to like.”

Posey joins a bunch of 30 partners with stakes within the Giants. The team didn’t reveal Posey’s share, but Posey’s slice is sort of actually very small. He earned most of his money with an eight-year, $159 million contract to shut his profession, and Forbes recently valued the Giants at $3.5 billion, the fifth highest club valuation in Major League Baseball.

“He’s putting his real money in at that prime value,” said Greg Johnson, the Giants’ chairman, “which I feel shows his commitment to the organization and his belief in baseball normally.”

Johnson spoke by phone from Luxembourg; he can also be chairman of Franklin Resources, Inc., the investment management company. Johnson scaled back his role there when he became the Giants’ control person in November 2019, and learned early on about Posey’s brand of nice-guy honesty.

“We had a really long conversation, and I discussed a few of the larger issues that were coming up before collective bargaining, to get an understanding of his perspective versus my perspective,” Johnson said. “And we had a excellent and thoughtful discussion, and at the tip of it, he sort of turned to me and said, ‘You realize, we just don’t trust you guys.’

“And that was such a telling thing for me, just showing the trust gap that exists due to the structure in baseball. So I feel having any person there that’s respected by the players and a part of our ownership group helps close that gap.”

Posey is just not the one former player to purchase into his old team; the Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. has a stake within the Seattle Mariners. Stars from other sports also hold stakes in various franchises — Giannis Antetokounmpo together with his Milwaukee Bucks, LeBron James with the Boston Red Sox, Patrick Mahomes with the Kansas City Royals.

And while Posey brings a former player’s viewpoint to large-scale ownership issues, the Giants highly value his local insight, too.

“There’s also the element of the Giants organization,” said Larry Baer, the team’s president and chief executive. “We had a magical 12 months in his last season, and we’ve fallen off this 12 months. He can contribute as a thought leader for the Giants.”

Posey opted out of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after he and his wife, Kristen, adopted newborn twin girls who were born prematurely. The 12 months away from baseball refreshed Posey’s body for his profession capper: his seventh All-Star season, his fifth Silver Slugger award, and a National League West championship with a club-record 107 victories.

The Giants’ business model is flourishing, with a 33 percent stake in NBC Sports Bay Area (the local TV home of the Golden State Warriors) and 50 percent ownership of a residential and retail development opening next 12 months on the location of an old parking zone across McCovey Cove. On the sphere, the Giants had slipped to 70-77 through Monday; amongst other problems, they’ve not found a approach to replace Posey’s production.

Posey, who also has a set of 11-year-old twins, approached his agents with the concept to purchase into the Giants after retirement. He wanted something more substantial than the standard ex-player roles — glad-handing sponsors, helping in spring training, calling just a few games on television — and ownership appealed as a tangible connection with out a defined structure.

“This can be a fun role for me to be in,” Posey said. “But in no way do I would like this to be misconstrued that I’m taking over any variety of front office role. I feel there’s a natural tendency for fans to perhaps think that I’ll have this outstanding role, and that’s not going to be the case. It’s more going to be like, ‘Hey, let me know where I may also help and I’ll help there.’”

Posey is usually a powerful recruiting voice for potential free agents, and said he considers Johnson a friend; they trade ideas about issues facing the franchise, and the brand new arrangement will amplify Posey’s influence.

“All the board of directors were comfortable bringing him on to the board and taking a very energetic role in every aspect of the team,” Johnson said. “That’s really what he wanted. He said, ‘I don’t want this to look good in a press release after which no one hears from Buster again.’”

Posey’s view could still have been from behind the plate. He made greater than 100 starts at catcher in his final season, and clearly had the abilities so as to add to his profession totals of 1,500 hits and 158 home runs, which helped him finish with a .302 average and .831 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Writers may soon wrestle with Posey’s Hall of Fame case for Cooperstown: he won multiple championships and a Most Useful Player Award, but so did the previous Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, who had similar statistics but never got here near election.

Whatever happens, Posey has never regretted his decision. He has transitioned from player to partial owner but will all the time be a full-time father, with or with out a plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y.

“Obviously it should be a lifetime honor to be recognized that way,” he said, “but it surely’s also going to be pretty cool, if I don’t get in, to inform my kids, ‘Hey look, guys, I had a reasonably good shot to get in here, but you and your mom are more essential than any accolade I could ever receive.’ And that’ll be equally as essential to me, if no more.”

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