Jorge Posada hit very well in a lot of ballparks throughout his Major League Baseball career. You don't get your number retired at Yankee Stadium if you were some kind of scrub.
Maybe the only park that Posada never really hit in was Wahconah Park.
Posada had his number retired in a ceremony Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Teammate Andy Pettitte wil have his retired today. Not only were they longtime teammates in the Bronx, but early in their careers, they were teammates with the Oneonta Yankees of the New York-Penn League.
Posada was a fairly light-hitting second baseman and catcher for the 1991 O-Yankees, who visited Pittsfield frequently as the Pittsfield Mets and Yankees were in the same division. The Mets actually won the McNamara Division with a 47-30 record while the Yankees finished 42-35.
Posada played in 71 games for Oneonta, hitting .235 with four home runs and 33 runs batted in. In 217 at-bats, he struck out 51 times and walked 51 times.
Pettitte was 2-2 in six starts with a team-best 2.18 earned run average.
The were both drafted in the 1990 First Year Player Draft. Pettitte was taken in the 22nd round and Posada was picked in the 24th.
We never saw Pettitte pitch in Wahconah Park. In fact, none of Pettitte's six starts in 1991 were against the Mets. Posada played in 12 of the 13 games that Oneonta and Pittsfield battled in. His numbers, as a matter of fact, weren't so great.
Posada hit .176 in 12 games against pitchers like Ottis Smith, Mike Anaya and Eric Reichenbach. None of those pitchers made it to the big leagues.
Posada played five games at Wahconah Park, all of them at second base. He got a hit in his first game, a 7-3 win on June 22, 1991, and did not get another hit. He was 1 for 13 at the old ballpark on Wahconah Street. He scored only three runs. The 1 for 13 translates to a .077 batting average.
Posada was a switch-hitter and since Smith, Anaya and Reichenbach were all right-handed, that meant Posada had to hit into what we used to call the "Triangle," that area in right-center field that back in the Mets' days was about 420 feet from home plate. Wahconah Park was, and continues to be, a park where fly balls go to die. Hitting out to right center was like hitting into a black hole.
The Mets went 10-3 against the Yankees that year, including a streak of nine consecutive wins.
The New York-Penn League of 1991 was not exactly teeming with prospects. Probably the two best players in the league — based on their major league performances — were Geneva Cubs pitcher Steve Trachsel and Hamilton Redbirds outfielder John Mabry.
The Mets of that year were managed by Jim Thrift, son of the late Syd Thrift who was a former major league general manager. The lone player on Jim Thrift's first team that had a lengthy MLB career was Hector Carrasco, who spent 12 years in the bigs as a reliever, including part of 2000 with the Boston Red Sox.
That, by the way, was also the year that Dalton native Scott Pudlo pitched for the independent Erie Sailors in the New York-Penn League. Pudlo was 5-3 in his only pro season with a 3.98 ERA. He pitched against Pittsfield on Aug. 24 and got a no-decision.
The most talented player in the league in 1991 was a Red Sox farmhand, Frankie Rodriguez. Rodriguez had major league-caliber defense even in his first pro season. One wonders if he had not asked to be moved to the mound how Boston's future would have changed. He was good enough to man shortstop for years.
Posada wasn't all that good at second base. In 64 games, he committed 20 errors. The next year, Posada spent most of his time behind the plate in the minor leagues. The rest, as they say, is history.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.