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Fans for life: In-laws among Posey’s biggest supporters

Buster Posey's grandparents-in-law, Chesley and Evelyn Cawthon, will be among several Giants fans in attendance this weekend at Turner Field for one reason -- Buster Posey.

Buster Posey's grandparents-in-law, Chesley and Evelyn Cawthon, will be among several Giants fans in attendance this weekend at Turner Field for one reason -- Buster Posey.

PERRY — Chesley and Evelyn Cawthon are diehard San Francisco Giants fans.

They don't try to hide it. They have a "GIANTS" license plate on the front bumper of their Toyota Camry.

Chesley will wear his black baseball cap, with "SF" stitched across the top, whenever he heads to Lowe's to pick up drywall nails and duct tape.

On Saturday, the Cawthons will put on their Giants jerseys and climb aboard the Perry United Methodist Church bus. They will ride with a group to Turner Field in Atlanta and keep their eyes fixed on the team in the visiting dugout.

"We know we're going to be sitting in the middle of a lot of Braves fans," Evelyn said, laughing.

They will be busting a few buttons for Buster, too.

Life hasn't been the same for the Cawthons since Buster Posey became their grandson-in-law. The San Francisco catcher, who is the reigning Most Valuable Player in the National League, is married to their granddaughter, Kristen. (In August 2011, Kristen gave birth to a twin boy and girl.)

Grandparents, even by marriage, have season tickets in any bragging section. So the Cawthons are quick to mention Buster was named the NL's Rookie of the Year in 2010. And that he led the league in hitting last year. And that he was voted "Comeback Player of the Year" after missing most of the 2011 season with an injury.

They will proudly show off the autographed baseballs from the World Series the Giants won in 2010 and 2012. They also have an autographed ball from the perfect game Posey caught from pitcher Matt Cain on June 13, 2012. (There have only been 23 perfect games in major-league history, so it's a select group. Thursday marked the one-year anniversary.)

Until Buster came along, the Cawthons didn't keep up with baseball. In fact, Chesley hadn't been to a big-league game since he took his son, Chesley Jr., to a Braves game back in the days of Hank Aaron and Phil Niekro.

Their oldest daughter, Debra, who grew up in Perry, married Juan Powell 34 years ago. They settled in Leesburg, where Debra worked as an educator and guidance counselor in the Dougherty County (Albany) and Lee County school systems.

Chesley said Debra's oldest daughter, Lindsey, dated several baseball players in high school. Then Kristen introduced them to her new sweetheart.

His name was Gerald Dempsey Posey III, but everybody called him "Buster." A four-sport athlete, he was talented enough to earn a baseball scholarship to Florida State University, one of the top programs in the country.

"Mike Martin (FSU baseball coach) said Buster was the kind of young man who, when your daughter brings him home, you want to lock the door and not let him get away," Chesley said.

They were married in January 2009, seven months after Buster was drafted in the first round by the Giants. He has become one of the game's best all-around players in only two full seasons in the big leagues.

But the Cawthons are even more proud of the way he plays off the field. He is an outstanding role model in a sport always in need of wholesome, humble athletes.

"People have named their babies, dogs, cats and birds after him," Evelyn said. "A woman wrote on his Facebook page about her 10-year-old son being very shy. But when he put on the catcher's equipment, he became a different person. When she asked him why, he told her: 'Because that's what Buster would do.' "

Posey is not the only young man who has put tiny Leesburg (population 2,800) on the map. Country singer Luke Bryan is from Leesburg. So is Phillip Phillips, winner of the 11th season of "American Idol" in May 2012.

The Cawthons have traveled to San Francisco to see their grandson-in-law play. And they never miss an opportunity to wave the Giants banner, even in the heart of Braves County.

Two months ago, Evelyn marched down to Kroger to buy the April issue of Men's Health. It is not a magazine she reads regularly. She just had to be the first person in Perry to own a copy.

Buster was on the cover, of course.