28: A Photographic Tribute to Buster Posey

Brad Mangin

One of the most beloved players in Giants history, Buster Posey is celebrated in the upcoming book, 28: A Photographic Tribute to Buster Posey. It tells the story of Buster’s career from the heartfelt perspective of those who know him best, with essays from Bruce Bochy, Matt Cain, Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence, Sergio Romo, Barry Zito and others, paired with photographs from throughout his career taken by veteran Bay Area photographer and Players’ Tribune contributor Brad Mangin. A portion of the proceeds from the book will benefit BP28, the pediatric cancer foundation run by Buster and his wife, Kristen. 

Photographs by Brad Mangin

“The Buddhists talk about being present. You know how it is when you get in that flow? And time slips away? That’s it. Being intentional, getting in the zone—that’s not something I figured out how to do when I played. The zone either did or didn’t come to me, and sometimes it didn’t, and it sucked.

But with Buster, I feel like he just knows. Some guys know how to get themselves there, day in, day out. Years ago, an old coach told me, “Michael Jordan said he can put on the zone like a coat.” I feel like Buster could do that too.

His rookie year was 2010. I was in my own world in 2010. It was not good. But I think what we all knew from the start was Buster’s presence—this aloofness, in a beautiful way—about the game. I think that was the first thing I noticed about Buster. Baseball was not who he was. Even though he was only in his first year, there was this collectedness about him.

Next thing I knew, we had won the World Series. -Barry Zito

The Phillies were in Washington, DC, in 2012 when I saw on the ESPN ticker that I’d been traded to the Giants. I had thought that the Phillies were still trying to win, so I was shocked that they were trading me away. At the same time, I was very excited to be coming to the Giants, who were in contention.

I learned right away when I got to San Francisco that one of the coolest things about Buster, and the Giants at that time, is how relaxed they played. There was no tenseness, no uptightness. It was a lot more free, and learning that way really helped me in my career.

I don’t remember my first encounter with Buster, but as we became good friends, as the story goes, I realized that he’s definitely a very funny guy, probably something you wouldn’t really realize if you didn’t know him personally. He loves to crack jokes, and he loves to pick on everybody and rib a little bit, but for the most part, as far as baseball is concerned, he’s very determined, very focused, and has one of the most competitive fires I’ve ever seen. The initial impression is reserved, calm, just like you would see in the media. You feel like he’s thinking a lot more than he’s saying.

And, of course, 2012 was the year he won NL MVP. (And when he won the batting title, we got him a kegerator, because he likes beer.) I’m glad he won MVP, because I was hitting behind him, and they just kept walking him. I think the only time I ever got 100 RBI was the year they walked Buster every time there was an RBI situation.

He was on everything. And he had the leg kick, and it was his timing, and he was young and so healthy. A lot of times, though, I think he was dealing with a lot more injuries than people realized. He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever played with.” -Hunter Pence

“Buster’s work ethic reminded me of another player I managed—Tony Gwynn. Tony had never felt that he had arrived as a player, and I don’t think Buster ever did. But players like Buster and Tony, their actions are so consistent—how they come to the ballpark every day, ready to play, to become the best player that they can be, every day.

Another comparison I’ve heard for Buster is Derek Jeter. Jeter was not known for his defense, but he was known for his professionalism—how he showed up every day. Guys like that are just so consistent with who they are and how they play the game. They’re not mercurial, not up and down. They’re just incredible. Buster brought that every day.

It all peaked in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series in Kansas City. I still kid Bumgarner about all those high fastballs he threw to Salvy Pérez. I said, “All you had to do is bounce a breaking ball, and he’d have swung!”

I was hoping maybe he’d break one off, but Bum said, “Well, I didn’t want to bounce one, and he scores on a wild pitch.” That was his thinking. He had so much confidence in that rising fastball.

Again, that’s Buster having a good feel back there. Good catchers are just like good pitchers—they know what they want. Bumgarner knows what he wants to throw, and Buster knows what pitch he wants to call. There’s no hesitation.” -Bruce Bochy

To purchase a copy of 28: A Photographic Tribute to Buster Posey click here. To learn more about the BP28 Foundation, click here.