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June 25, 2012

Pebble Hunting

Buster Posey and the Things Vin Scully Says

by Sam Miller

Some people like to read magazine profiles of top athletes, but I prefer to listen to Vin Scully tell their life stories in small chunks over the course of two decades. Tonight, the Giants will play the Dodgers. Buster Posey behind the plate, Vin Scully behind the microphone, as it has been 21 times before and as it will be forever and ever and ever and ever.

Vin Scully’s factoids might seem, oh, repetitive and occasionally arbitrary, but they are actually a very important part of humanity’s future. There will come a day when all the paper dissolves, and there will come a day when Stuxnet erases all of our digital documentation, but there will never come a day when Vin Scully isn’t talking about baseball players. He is the only indestructible repository of historical information that mankind has ever created, and he is our only hope of remembering that Rich Aurilia once worked as a stagehand at the Metropolitan Opera.

A critic might accuse Scully of repeating factoids too often, but Scully knows that not everybody listens to every game, and not everybody who does remembers every fact; the frequency of a factoid’s appearance certainly corresponds to its importance in the story. A critic might also suggest that the facts skew toward uniqueness, rather than significance. This is true, but this is also important. There are too many baseball players and too many baseball games. Nothing is significant. Each player is merely a single skin cell, easily scraped away and regenerated with no impact. All we have in baseball to keep us alive is the unique.

So Vin. Always, always Vin. What follows is the perfect life story of Buster Posey, comprising almost everything Vin Scully has ever said during Buster Posey's plate appearances over the past four seasons, and arranged by how frequently Scully has returned to the factoid. The life story continues, tonight.

11 citations:
Buster Posey wasn’t always a catcher. April 11, 2011: “What a decision was made by the coach at Florida State. Can you imagine, you have an All-American shortstop and you make him a catcher? And that's what he did. Because he said Posey was such a natural leader he was wasted at short. As a catcher he became a big leaguer in a hurry.”
Also: July 19, 2010 (first plate appearance); July 19, 2010 (third PA); July 21, 2010; July 30, 2010; Sept. 4, 2010; Sept. 15, 2010; April 1, 2011 (first PA); April 1, 2011 (third PA); May 19, 2011; May 7, 2012.

10 citations:
Buster Posey’s full name. May 9, 2012: “A lot of people may wonder, ‘Yeah, we know he’s Buster, Buster this, Buster that. What’s his real name?’ His real name is rather impressive: Gerald Dempsey ‘Buster’ Posey III.“
Also: June 30, 2010; July 19, 2010; July 21, 2010; Sept. 3, 2010; Sept. 4, 2010; Sept. 14, 2010; Sept. 15, 2010; Sept. 16, 2010; May 18, 2011;

Buster Posey is from Leesburg, GA, and Leesburg, GA is small. April 1, 2011: “To say Posey comes from a small town would be an understatement. According to numbers through July 2009, Leesburg, GA has a population of 2,900. The median income $33,000. The average home, $121,000.”
Also: June 28, 2010; July 19, 2010; July 21, 2010; July 30, 2010; Sept. 3, 2010; Sept. 15, 2010; Sept. 16, 2010; April 12, 2011; May 18, 2011;

Nine citations:
Buster Posey’s size. Sept. 4, 2010: “He’s well put together: 6’ 1”, 205-pounder.”
Also: Sept. 11, 2009; June 28, 2010; June 30, 2010; July 19, 2010; July 21, 2010; July 30, 2010; Sept. 3, 2010; May 9, 2012.

Seven citations:
Buster Posey’s bonus. Sept. 3, 2010: “He was getting his degree in finance and graduated without a diploma for over $6 million. He got his own education in finance.”
Also: Sept. 11, 2009; June 28, 2010; June 30, 2010; June 21, 2010; June 30, 2010; May 19, 2011.

Six citations:
Buster Posey is going to be around for a long time. July 20, 2010: “We were talking about over the years it figures Kershaw and Lincecum will tangle. Boy how many times will Kershaw and Posey go head to head? Posey is 23. Kershaw is 22.”
Also: Sept. 11, 2009; June 30, 2010; July 21, 2010; Sept. 14, 2010; Sept. 16, 2010.

Five citations:
Buster Posey’s grades. July 19, 2010: “Posey was almost straight-A in college. He made the dean's list two years. He was named to the president's list for 4.0 GPA. Bright young man.”
Also: Sept. 11, 2009; June 28, 2010; Sept. 3, 2010; April 1, 2010.

Four citations:
Buster Posey’s arrival turned around the Giants’ (World Series) season. July 19, 2010: “Giants hit the skids at the end of June. Then Posey came along to play every day. They went on to stop Bochy from scratching his head by winning 10 out of 13.”
Also: July 20, 2010; July 21, 2010; May 7, 2012.

Buster Posey hits better on the road. April 11, 2011 (second PA): “I don't know whether it's the pressure of being Rookie of the Year or what, but Buster Posey doesn’t hit nearly as much at home as he does on the road. In his career .244 at AT&T Park, .343 on the road.”
Also: Sept. 3, 2010; April 11, 2011 (fourth PA); April 12, 2011.

Buster Posey’s nickname comes from his dad, Buster. April 1, 2011: “Got that nickname Buster from his dad. His father was known as Buster.”
Also: May 18, 2011; May 19, 2011; May 9, 2012.

Three citations:
Buster Posey’s Golden Spikes award. June 28, 2010: “When he was in college he led the NCAA Division 1 in hitting, on-base, slugging, total bases, RBI, and he won the Golden Spikes award as the college player of the year.”
Also: Sept. 11, 2009; April 12, 2011.

Buster Posey married young. June 28, 2010: “They say he acts more mature. Well he's 23, and he was married when he was 21.”
Also: July 19, 2010; Sept. 14, 2010.

Buster Posey’s long hitting streak as a rookie was historic. July 19, 2010: “He has not only been the hottest hitter in the majors, he is a Giant rookie who has two separate double-digit hit streaks this season. He's the third Giant rookie to have two separate double-digit hit streaks. Sounds like an announcer’s audition!” 
Also: July 30, 2010; Sept. 3, 2010.

Buster Posey’s brothers play ball. July 21, 2010: “Buster has two brothers. One is a junior at Florida State, playing first and third and occasionally pitching. His youngest brother is a sophomore in high school, playing on the varsity team.”
Also: July 30, 2010; May 19, 2011.

Two citations:
Buster Posey was serenaded by his home fans in college. May 19, 2011: “You know how they talk about playing songs for each player when he comes up? When Buster Posey was at Florida State, the crowd used to sing. It was ‘Hail to the Buster.’ ‘He singles he doubles he triples he homers. Hail to the Buster.’"
Also: July 19, 2010.

Buster Posey’s sister plays ball. July 30, 2010: “He has a sister who plays softball in community college.”
Also: May 19, 2011.

His first hit came against the Dodgers. Sept. 15, 2010:  “About a year ago, on Sept. 19, he got his first major-league hit and it was against the Dodgers.”
Also: Sept. 14, 2010.

Buster’s got a hitch. May 19, 2011: “When you look at Posey, his bat goes beyond parallel as the golfers will say. Instead of just holding the bat parallel to the ground it actually dips down, just for a little while. Boy do you have to be quick.”
Also: May 9, 2012

Buster Posey hits a lot of groundballs. May 7, 2012: “We told you the Giants hit a lot of groundballs, and you would have to say Buster Posey is the leader. He kills a lot of worms. Mathematically, it comes out to he hits about 2.5 groundballs for every ball in the air.”
Also: May 8, 2012.

One citation:
Buster Posey is not the first person named Buster. June 30, 2010: “Giants, years ago, when I was a kid, had an outfielder named Buster, Buster Maynard. You have to go way back in the books.”

Buster Posey’s childhood yard was big. July 19, 2010: “Buster grew up on a 50-acre plot of land in Georgia. He says the front yard was so big it was a makeshift ball field. They would use the yard for Little League practice.”

Buster Posey goes the other way a lot. July 30, 2010: “He went the other way a lot in the series at Dodger Stadium.”

Catching takes it out of him. April 11, 2011: “In watching Buster carefully, so far in his career, he hits .327 in the first three innings, .314 in the middle innings, and then maybe catching takes it out of him, he hits .229 from the seventh to the ninth.”

Buster Posey is like other great Giants. Sept. 16, 2010: “I can think of no finer tribute to Buster Posey than the fact they are comparing him already to Will Clark, even though Clark was a left-handed battter. The swings are somewhat similar, kind of hitting the inside of the ball.”

Buster Posey played in the World Junior Championships. April 1, 2011: “Posey pitched in the World Junior Championship on a USA squad that featured, among others, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates. Another player on that kids team: Justin Upton of Arizona.”

Buster Posey is quite grounded. April 1, 2011: “They say it was a very emotional moment here at AT&T when he received the (ROY) award. There were some great names from the past who had won the award for the Giants, starting with Mays, Cepeda, McCovey. They were all on the field. Posey would be the first to say that was nice but that was last year; he's a very level-headed kid.”

Buster Posey/Johnny Bench. May 19, 2011: “A finalist as a sophomore to win the Johnny Bench Award given annually to the college game's best catcher. As a junior in a game at Florida State, he played all nine positions in the game.  He might very well be the best all-around catcher since Johnny Bench.”

Buster Posey World Series Trivia 1. May 18, 2011: “He joined Texas’ Feliz as the third pair of players named Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues after appearing in that year’s World Series.”

Buster Posey World Series Trivia 2. May 9, 2012: “He was the first rookie catcher in major-league history to hit cleanup in a postseason game.”

Zambia could use some help. April 11, 2011: “Zambia is a country of over 12 and a half million people. Average age at death: 45.”
 

And a head nod in the general direction of Grant Brisbee for providing the idea that I thieved

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

Related Content:  Buster Posey,  Vin Scully

16 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

sykojohnny
(225)

Braves fan who will listen to any game that Vin announces. I love his asides.

Jun 25, 2012 07:40 AM
rating: 3
 
leites

I'm jealous that your job includes listening to old Scully broadcasts.

Jun 25, 2012 07:57 AM
rating: 7
 
dianagram

Genius (both you and Scully)

Jun 25, 2012 09:17 AM
rating: 1
 
Michael
(736)

I give up: what (according to Vin) does Buster Posey have to do with Zambia?

Jun 25, 2012 09:32 AM
rating: 1
 
navarred

In an article on Lincecum and Kershaw on ESPN "Kershaw's focus is so tight that he refused to drift from his off-season throwing regimen, even when he and his wife visited the orphanage site in Zambia." http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7712948/tim-lincecum-wants-revenge-clayton-kershaw-espn-magazine

No mention of Posey being with Kerhsaw, but one might expect Vin to mention it as a Kershaw factoid.

Jun 25, 2012 14:04 PM
rating: 0
 
greendrummer

wow, that was pretty impressive

Dodgers were in Oakland last week, heard a Ray Fosse interview with Vin where he explained how he actually accumulates all of these stories over the years

in the oldest of 'old school' fashion, Vinny has a massive system of 3x5 cards from the last 50+ yrs that have notes on each player that he makes after 'any' conversation or research that he deems worthy
he will review the relevant ones before each series that he is going to be at, and the stories just come right off his tongue like he heard them yesterday

never would have guessed the adnauseum of repeating the same stories.....
was intrigued at his diligence, sounds like he needs a little cleaning up of the file

Jun 25, 2012 11:50 AM
rating: 2
 
psugator01

this is brilliant. i could hear vin's voice as i read this.

Jun 25, 2012 12:02 PM
rating: 4
 
danielshulman
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Vin Scully needs to go. He is long past it, if he ever had it in the first place. Right now he is the John Sterling league, which is more or less unlistenable. Blather, blather, and more blather. If my only choice were to listen to him or to miss the game completely, I choose the latter, not even a close call. These guys need to lsiten to old recordings of Red Barber and Jim Kaat. Less is more.

Jun 25, 2012 12:11 PM
rating: -37
 
Dan W.

Congratulations. This is in the running for the most-negatived comment in BP history. You must be quite proud.

Jun 26, 2012 12:59 PM
rating: 0
 
orlandoca7

Thumbs up! I grew up listening to Bob Murphy & Lindsey Nelson, and appreciate Scully greatly. I don't know if the new broadcasters, even the best of them, have Scully's devotion to detail.

Jun 25, 2012 13:05 PM
rating: 0
 
Llarry

I do have to say that 2900 isn't *that* small. My wife's hometown had 500, but only if she and her sister were home from college...

Jun 25, 2012 15:57 PM
rating: 1
 
outdoorminer

Wow, one critique of Vin and it gets "voted down" to the tune of -16. (I'm not a fan of the "rating" system.)

My own view of Vin is more 50/50 - when I've had the chance to hear Vin-as-one-man-booth, I like him well enough, and his tone and longevity make him an undisputed classic. But when he was the play-by-play man for NBC, he and Joe Garagiola paid little attention to the game - Vin would drop a factoid, Joe would tell a Yogi Berra story, and I'd be tearing my hair out. Every week I'd pray my market would get the Costas/Kubek "B" game instead of Scully/Garagiola.

I'm just saying, enough with the canonization already.

Jun 25, 2012 16:51 PM
rating: 1
 
bigbart

I have to say, love the voice, but I've listened to Vin go on and on about Roy Oswalt and his damned farm for what seemed like innings at a time without ever talking about the game. Bob Murphy was the best!

Jun 25, 2012 20:47 PM
rating: -1
 
mrflak

How'd you go about writing this article? Did you have to MLB.TV all the games--go to each Buster Posey at bat--and identify each factoid? IMPRESSIVE!

Jun 26, 2012 06:39 AM
rating: 0
 
beerchaser42

I know it's an odd turn of a phrase to refer to a guy who's been doing play by play for 60+ years as a "breath of fresh air". But when you're subjected to so many of the clowns that pass themselves off as broadcasters these days, and then you have the pleasure of hearing Vinny call a Dodgers game, that's exactly what it seems like.

As for what Vinny says about Buster Posey, who cares if he repeats himself. It's the Giants, for Pete's sake. Most if not all of what Vinny says about them goes in one ear and right out the other. :)

Jun 26, 2012 11:44 AM
rating: 1
 
PaddyE

Hey, it's ok if you don't remember what Scully says about the Giants, just so long as you remember the phrase "three-shutout sweep," as that tells you all you need to know about the Giants.

But I'll own up to the guilty pleasure of tuning into Scully on long night drives in the valley, and it even pleased me that my sons came back from school & work stints in LA as Scully fans (but hating the Dodgers & all other things LA, but Scully, even more than before).

I'm not sure I'd want him all the time, though, as I get my fill of the gosh-all-mighty style from Jon Miller already (who clearly was influenced by Scully, despite growing up a Giants fan). My preference is for the bone-dry humor the Giants have had from the likes of Simmons, Greenwald, and Kuiper. Regardless, Scully's a pleasure to listen to, no matter your loyalties.

Jun 28, 2012 00:22 AM
rating: 0
 
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