Leesburg's Buster Posey, who went 1-for-2 with a hit and a run scored in Tuesday's All-Star Game, led all NL vote getters with 7.6 million.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Leesburg’s Buster Posey brought his bat, his glove and his humility to his first All-Star Game on Tuesday night, and he thanked all the fans who made him the record-breaking vote-getter for the National League.
“I think any time you are voted in or recognized by the fans it’s special,’’ said Posey, who won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2010 with the Giants and then sat out most of the 2011 season after suffering a injury during a collision at the plate. “For me, my goal was to get back on the field this year, so just being here is icing on the cake, and I can’t thank the fans enough. They’re the ones who make it special.”
Posey, however, said he was surprised he broke the NL record with 7.6 million votes. Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton set an AL record by picking up a little more than 11 million votes and was asked if he thought it was enough votes to become president of the country.
“You don’t want to hear my policies,’’ Hamilton joked while speaking with reporters Tuesday. “You enjoy coming to the All-Star Game, but being voted in by the fans is a special deal. Obviously, people enjoy or are entertained by watching us play. It’s exciting to come and play in front of the fans, to have your family here and have the people who voted you in.’’
Hamilton’s comeback from a life of drugs to stardom in the big leagues is a familiar one, and he said that his story may have affected the fans and how they voted.
“I think people understand it’s real,’’ Hamilton said. “I don’t try to make excuses or try to blame anyone else. Things I’ve been through are my choices, so when I make mistakes I share them with people. Obviously, I want to learn from them. I don’t want to make them continuously. I want to try to adapt and move forward. I think people can relate to that. That’s why I share my story, so obviously to help people not to make the same mistakes I’ve made. That’s why I’m so honest with it. I think they appreciate that and think that could have had something to do with the voting.’’
Posey started for the NL with his teammate Matt Cain on the mound Tuesday. But he was asked Monday before the game how he would have felt had Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey had started.
“Make sure a big glove is available,’’ Posey joked. “If that were to happen, I would just use my instincts as much as I could. Never catching a knuckleball guy, I don’t know much preparation I could do.’’
Posey finished the game Tuesday 1-for-2 with a run scored, while Hamilton was 0-for-2. The two top vote-getters both nearly hit home runs during their limited at-bats before their deep balls were caught at the warning track.
Hamilton, who put on an inspiring performance in the Home Run Derby in 2008 in Yankee Stadium, didn’t compete this year — to the disappointment of many. But he said — because of a nagging back injury — he simply can’t risk entering.
“I want to do it every year,’’ Hamilton said. “I love to do it. I love hitting home runs. I love entertaining folks. I mean, that’s what we do. We’re entertainers. But also, I’ve got to be smart when it comes to being unselfish and being healthy for my team. That’s my No. 1 priority now. It only takes one swing. I proved that the other day going back on a fly ball, something I do all the time, but my back spasm-ed on me.
“So doing something as far as swinging like we do every day, it only takes one time. I’m either out for a while and I’ve let my teammates down and the organization and the fans. At some point, hopefully, I can get back out there and do it.’’
Posey can appreciate being n the game, and added that he realizes what it means to be a member of the Giants, who have had so many legendary players in the All-Star Game, and to be around those Hall of Fame players.
“I think we’re extremely lucky in the Giants organization to have those guys around, to have Willie Mays (Willie) McCovey, (Orlando) Cepeda, Gaylord Perry. They’re around a lot in the spring, and they’re around a good amount during the season.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak to them specifically about the All-Star Game, but I think that’s something the Giants do really well. As soon as you get there you learn to appreciate the Giants’ organization. It’s not something any of us take lightly.’’
Posey said before the game that he knows the importance of having the home field in the Wolrd Series, but that he didn’t think it affected the players in the All-Star Game.
“It definitely carries some weight. It was big for us in 2010 to have those first two games (of the World Series) in San Fran,” he said.
Then he added that he doesn’t think it changes the way the players approach the All-Star Game.
“I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know if guys would play the game any differently if it wasn’t for home-field advantage,’’ he said. “I think we all have enough pride that we’re going to play the game hard. It makes it more interesting for the fans.’’
One of the most famous plays in All-Star Game history came in 1970 when Pete Rose had a collision at home plate with catcher Ray Fosse, who suffered a shoulder injury.
Posey saw his 2011 season end after a collision at the plate but said he would play the All-Star Game like any other game.
“I think when you’re out there, you’re reacting,’’ Posey said. “You just play the game. It’s not something I thought about before the game.’’
He was asked time and again about it while coming back this year.
“There’s never a good time to get injured, but when I did there was enough time left in the season where I was spending a lot of time at the ballpark doing stuff to get back on my feet. By the time the season ended, I could take a couple of weeks off and kind of recoup and let my body catch up with all the rehabbing I was doing. There’s still stuff I have to do a little extra for a while, but all-in-all I feel great. I couldn’t be happier where I am.’’
Nothing was easy about coming back.
“Probably the hardest part was just watching last year — the four months I was out,’’ Posey said. “It was just a helpless feeling knowing you can’t go out there and compete with the other guys on the team. I thick that was all the motivation I needed to get back, just to get back and have the ability to compete again.’’