On September 4th, 1995, I sat in my living room, eating a slice of my birthday cake when Jorge Posada came in to replace Jim Leyritz in the ninth inning. My grandfather, who refused to miss the game even for his granddaughters birthday, pointed at the TV and told me that Jorge was my birthday gift.
Almost 20 years after that day, I sat in the stands at Yankee stadium while his number was retired. Honestly, it's still surreal.
Jorge was my childhood hero. Of the Core Four, my favorite had always been Jorge. His heart and dedication had always endeared him to me. When he played, he played to win, and his presence on the field demanded that everyone gave 1 million percent every time. He was true grit. I appreciated his work ethic, and the manner in which he carried himself. For me, there was no one on that field with more passion than Jorge. So, being at the stadium for the ceremony was very emotional for me.
There really are no words to describe the feel at the stadium. It was electric. Happiness and gratitude mixed with excitement. The energy was incredible, and I assume that if you have ever been in the stadium for such an event, you can relate. In the stands was a sea of Posada jerseys; a show of solidarity with the 20 on the field on the first and third baselines.
As Michael Kay and John Sterling began announcing his old managers, and teammates, all I could think was that my entire childhood was on display for me on the field. David Cone, Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, and the rest of the Core Four - Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter - among others. Jorge was accompanied by his family - his mother, and father, along with sister, brother in law and niece and nephew, and of course his beautiful wife, Laura Posada, and children, Jorge and Paulina.
It seemed fitting that he was surrounded by people how have had such a huge impact on him, both on and off the field. Yogi Berra, unfortunately could not make it. He sent his regards in the form of a letter, that made me even more misty eyed.
"I am very sad that I cannot be with you today, but my knees hurt too much. Just wait - one day you're knees are going to hurt, too!"
Jorge took to the podium to the cheers of "Hip hip, Jorge!" He teased saying that we weren't nearly loud enough. He made and incredibly moving speech, touching on the health struggles that Jorge Jr. faced.
"For all the fans who always ask about Jorge's health, here he is at 15 years old, healthy and strong. I know a lot of you remember him from the All-Star Game, running on the field. Thank you for all your prayers."
He also shared well wishes to Mike Aviles, whose daughter is facing medical difficulties as well. For most of his career, Jorge was sometimes called away due to Jorge Jr.'s health. So this is something that Jorge is very familiar with.
It was a beautiful ceremony. Perfect for the kind of man that Jorge is. Again, it's difficult to express in words the feel of it, and that is really the most beautiful part. I'm immensely grateful to my friend who thought to make it possible for me to attend. No matter how many years go by, that birthday on 1995, when I watched Jorge step in, will forever shine as one of the best. It meant that I got to witness and incredible career, and sit in the stands while the greatest catcher since Thurman Munson had his number retired by the New York Yankees.
Thank you, Jorge! You showed an incredible amount of heart and love for the game, and was the greatest honor watching you through it all.
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