Leesburg’s Buster Posey, who donated $10,000 to the Lee County High School baseball program this week, has been home for the last month resting and getting ready for 2013 spring training with the Giants.
LEESBURG — As if Major League Baseball superstar Buster Posey hasn’t already brought enough fame and notoriety to his rural South Georgia town of Leesburg, now he’s doing things behind the scenes to give back to the baseball program where he once sharpened his skills.
Posey, the San Francisco Giants’ 2010 National League Rookie of the Year, 2012 NL Most Valuable Player and two-time World Series champ, recently passed on one of the benefits of winning this season’s MVP award to the Lee County High School baseball team — in the form of $10,000 worth of equipment and supplies made by Louisville Slugger.
“For winning the MVP, they give you a choice of $10,000 or that amount in equipment, and I just thought, ‘What better place to give that to than Lee County High School?’ ” Posey said in an interview with The Herald on Friday. “(Helping out) when I can is something, honestly, I think about a lot. It’s such a great baseball program and setting, and it was so good to me, that I want to make sure the future guys who come through there have the same experience or better.”
The news truly came as a whopper of a surprise — a pleasant one, of course — to longtime Trojans head coach Rob Williams, who coached Posey from 2002 to 2005 before the 25-year-old Giants catcher moved on to Florida State, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as a junior before declaring for the MLB Draft.
“He’s done things for us before — like given the program money for our summer camp while he was in the minors to buy equipment or sent us cases of bats from spring training once he got called up — but I couldn’t believe it when he told me to get out my Louisville Slugger catalogue and get whatever I needed,” Williams said Friday. “I thanked him and told him how much we all appreciated it because $10,000 not only buys a lot of the need-to-haves, but it also gets us a few of the would-like-to-have items.”
Williams, who was on hand to congratulate Posey late last month when his former star was named the MVP — on the same night he was also serving as the guest speaker for a charity fundraiser at his mother’s school in Leesburg — said he was “speechless” when Posey called to deliver the news.
“It surprised me (in one regard) because it was out of the blue, but knowing Buster and what a generous guy he is with all those close to him, it didn’t surprise me one bit,” said Williams, who is in the process of ordering most of the equipment so it will be here in time when spring practice begins early next year. “He loves to give back.”
Williams said he hasn’t decided on everything he’ll purchase for the program, but he did say that Posey’s generosity will be felt by baseball players in Leesburg for years to come.
“The impact this will have will be far-reaching because we have a varsity program that will, first and foremost, benefit, then we have a JV team, a ninth-grade team a middle school team that will all be using this equipment,” Williams said. “And Louisville makes such great stuff, it will last us for years and years.”
Posey, who has been spending most of the offseason at his Leesburg residence relaxing with family and enjoying what little down time professional players have each year, said he started workouts to get ready for spring training about three weeks ago and “feels great.”
“I’ve been working out, getting ready to get back to work,” said Posey, who will report to spring training in Arizona in February as defending World Series champ for the second time in his very brief career. In just his second full year in the majors, Posey — who missed most of his sophomore season in 2011 following a brutal home-plate collision that left him with a broken left leg and torn tendons in his ankle — put together another amazing season to follow up his NL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2010. He hit a career-best 24 homers, drove in 103 runs and posted career-highs in doubles (39), runs scored (78), on-base percentage (.408) and slugging percentage (.549). He also won his first NL batting title with a .336 average and was named the NL’s Comeback Player of the Year.
Posey said he’s used the last month of down time to reflect on what’s been a rollercoaster three years in the majors since being called up in the middle of the season in 2010.
And slowly but surely, the magnitude of what he’s accomplished is slowly starting to hit him.
“I think over the past few weeks it’s really starting to sink in. It really did when I signed my first few autographs on a picture or a ball or a bat since winning the MVP, and people would ask me, ‘Can you sign it 2012 NL MVP?’ That kind of makes it real,” he said. “It’s still a little hard to wrap my mind around, but right now we’re just enjoying it and looking forward to getting going again in a couple months.”