With Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones seated to his right, Leesburg native Buster Posey — who grew up cheering for the Braves — gives his speech after accepting the 2012 National League MVP award on behalf of the Baseball Writers Association of America at the Hilton in downtown New York City late Saturday night.
NEW YORK — Dressed to the nines in his slick tuxedo, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey stepped to the stage at the Baseball Writers Association of America awards dinner Saturday night at the downtown Hilton in New York with his family among the massive crowd — and one of his childhood heroes, Atlanta’s Chipper Jones, seated to his right.
And with a captivated crowd waiting to hear the 2012 National League MVP speak, Posey didn’t open by thanking the writers, or gushing about how special the honor was.
He began with a joke — and at Chipper’s expense.
“I grew up in Georgia, and I started watching Chipper his rookie year,” Posey said, before pausing and looking over at Jones and adding with a smile: “I was probably 6 or 7.”
The room erupted in laughter, including Jones.
But Posey wasn’t done.
“I mean, I don’t mean to make you feel old,” Posey continued, “but my dad’s only 10 years older than you ... Wow.”
Normally straight-faced and all business, the 25-year-old Leesburg superstar showed his lighter side during the annual dinner in the Big Apple held each year to honor Major League Baseball’s best and brightest for their amazing 2012 seasons.
Posey’s father, Demp, mother, Traci, and his wife, Kristen, all attended the ceremony, and Posey made sure to thank them first once he had some lighthearted fun with Jones, who he also made sure to pay a compliment to. “In all seriousness, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say we’re going to miss seeing you play, so thank you for this,” Posey said, gesturing to the now-retired Jones, who was on hand Saturday specifically to present the MVP trophy to the two-time World Series champ.
“You can’t win this award without the help of a lot of people, and first and foremost I want to thank my wife Kristen for her unconditional love and support and taking care of our kids — and taking care of me. I couldn’t do what I did without her, and I’m very lucky to play this game.
“Thanks to my parents, who are here tonight, for helping raise me and my two brothers and my sister. I wouldn’t be up here without them.”
Posey, who finished the season by winning his first NL batting title with a .336 batting average, 24 home runs and 103 RBI to win the NL MVP award going away, was introduced by Jones, who said during his introduction that just one word comes to mind when he thinks of the name Buster Posey.
“Jealousy,” Jones said with a laugh as the crowd chuckled. “That’s the first thing I think of. How many guys in their first three years get a Rookie of the Year, now an MVP and a couple of rings? Your hands are gettin’ filled up buddy!”
Jones then ran off Posey’s laundry list of accomplishments, congratulated him again and handed the mic off. Posey then made it a point to thank all those in the Giants’ organization who helped him succeed in 2012 — especially the Giants’ training staff, which led him through extensive rehab to get back on the field following a season-ended injury in 2011.
“I’ve got to thank my trainer, Dave Groeschner, and the training staff and all the doctors who helped me get back on the field this year,” Posey said. “(I also want to thank) my teammates, the Giants organization and the front office .... Thank you for all you do.”
Posey, who lives during the offseason in his beloved city of Leesburg, then closed by giving a shout out to his adopted hometown and its countless Orange and Black supporters.
“I’ve got to thank the Giants fans. I’m very fortunate to play in San Francisco,” he said with a smile on his face. “It’s a passionate city that has unwavering support for Giants baseball. Thank you.”