Buster Posey, the even-keeled catcher for the San Francisco Giants, doesn’t succumb to emotion very often, not even when the Giants won World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
But last week, in announcing an initiative to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer, Posey had to catch himself. Posey and his wife will be involved in a couple of fundraisers later this summer, and Posey helped to design the Buster Posey Pediatric Cancer Awareness 9FORTY cap, which will be sold to fund research and treatment.
After making the announcement, Posey spoke to Rolling Stone about his cause, the Giants’ chase for yet another even-year World Series title and being Hunter Pence’s good friend.
What made you decide to get involved in the fight against pediatric cancer, specifically?
I guess probably about a year or year-and-a-half ago, my wife met somebody named Melissa Wiggins, and her 2-year-old son, Cannon, had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Her kid was about the same age as our twins at the time, and we got to know Melissa, and she was very forthcoming about the type of treatment he was going through. She was posting images that were hard for people to look at. And then we found out that about only four percent of governmental cancer research goes to pediatrics. We couldn’t imagine what it must be like for the family to have to go through something like that. And with the platform we have, we figured we could raise awareness.
How involved were you in the design of the cap?
I took some time and sat down with the New Era team, and I put some ideas into it, as well. I contributed to the color scheme, and of course, it’s got the SF logo on it…if I could ever wear it in a game, it would be great.
I know you get asked the question about the Giants winning World Series in even years all the time, but how do you guys approach it at this point?
I think for the most part, we pretty much put the same pressure on ourselves every year. I always say I’m happy to answer that question, because that means we’ve had a lot of success over the past five or six years. If there was a magic formula, we wouldn’t be sharing it anyway.
You’ve got a pair of new high-profile pitchers in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. How have they fit in so far?
They’ve fit in and meshed really well, as has [outfielder] Denard Span. Those guys are established major league players. You kind of know their game a little bit, but you’ve got to get to know each other’s personalities. But they’ve fit in well so far.
The Giants have also maintained a relatively stable core of players over the past several years, including you. How much of a difference does that make?
I think the main thing is that when you’ve played together for a while, the expectations are up front. You don’t have to go through one of those learning curves you might otherwise have to with new guys.
What have you learned playing for manager Bruce Bochy over the years?
The main thing I’ve learned from Boch is that he’s very good at reading personalities. With 25 guys on the team, there’s gonna be a lot of different personalities, and there are times where you have to figure out how to get the best of guys. Personally, Boch and I now have the type of relationship where we can have a dialogue. I’m always cautious, though, because if Boch wants my opinion on something, it’s still just that. He’s really good at what he does.
With first baseman Brandon Belt signing an extension, it appears you’re locked into the catchers’ position for the foreseeable future. Did that make a difference to you?
It’s not really that different, because I felt I was going to catch for the rest of my career anyway. I enjoy the preparation, I enjoy working with the pitchers, so as long as I can stay behind the plate and stay healthy, I’m fine with it.
How do you manage to neutralize the toll catching takes as you grow older?
I think there’s always things you pick up. Baseball is a game of adjustments. I don’t train now the same way I did when I was 22, 23, 24. I don’t go in the weight room and squat 300 pounds. Maybe I’ll work more on flexibility and core stability instead.
For most of the decade, the Giants have ruled the roost locally, but how much attention have you been paying to what the Warriors have been accomplishing across the Bay?
Obviously, it’s a historic regular season, and all in all they’re just a fun team to watch. You understand, too, that when you’re going after a record like that, as soon as you turn on the TV, people are going to be talking about it. And so I almost admire their mental toughness more than anything.
Have you befriended Steph Curry or anyone else on that team?
Not really. Our schedules tend to criss-cross, so I haven’t had a lot of time to spend with any of them.
What are your thoughts on being known on social media as “Hunter Pence’s good friend“?
I guess it was [Giants broadcaster] Jon Miller who actually started that. [Note: Miller, in calling a Pence home run, accidentally began referring to Pence as Buster Posey before he managed to cover it up with that reference.] It goes to show you how good Jon Miller is, and how quickly he thinks. But yeah, me and Hunter have been joking around about it a little bit.
Michael Weinreb is the author of Season of Saturdays: A History of College Football in 14 Games, now out in paperback. You can find him on Twitter @michaelweinreb