Posada grabs his own slice of history

NEW YORK -- The crowd came armed with all the trappings of the electronic age, flipcams and smartphones along with their baseball gloves, hoping to in one way or another catch a moment in Yankees history.

And every time there was a chance it might happen, it was as if the game stopped so everyone in the ballpark could sit up and take notice. In fact, it was almost as if Friday night's game between the Yankees and Kansas City Royals was merely an interruption in a string of periodic appearances by Alex Rodriguez.

The moment they came to see, of course, was Rodriguez's 600th home run, a milestone for the ages.

Instead, they saw a milestone for the aged, one that probably no one in the ballpark knew was about to be reached but the man who attained it.

"No flashbulbs for me," said Jorge Posada, who in his first at-bat of the game not only reached a plateau only a dozen Yankees in history have reached -- 1,000 RBIs -- but also joined a group even more select than the one A-Rod is still seeking admittance to.

With his first-inning double that drove in Robinson Cano, Posada became one of only five catchers in major league history to have hit at least 250 home runs and 350 doubles while driving in 1,000 runs.

Three of them -- Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter -- are in Cooperstown. The other two, Pudge Rodriguez and Posada, are still active, still playing the toughest position on a baseball diamond.

"That's quite an accomplishment, especially from behind the plate, where it's such a grueling position," said Joe Girardi, an ex-catcher himself. "Jorgie's had a fantastic career."

And he had a fantastic game, coming in, as A-Rod did, knowing he needed just one more to reach his goal, but leaving, unlike A-Rod, with one more even than that.

"I was excited," said Posada, who finished with two hits and two RBIs in the Yankees' absurdly easy 7-1 victory. "I mean, I was asking for the baseball even before I got to second base. It was special to me, and it's one of those games I won't forget."

Posada's accomplishment not only was unknown to most of the people in the ballpark until it was flashed on the big screen, but it was no better than the third-biggest attraction in the game. The first, of course, was A-Rod. He wound up going a "disappointing" 2-for-4.

The second was the return of A.J. Burnett for the first time since he sliced his palms on the clubhouse door in a fit of temper after a poor second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays last weekend. On this night, he pitched well for five innings before being chased by Mother Nature, who soaked the ballpark with a thunderstorm that caused a delay of 1 hour, 25 minutes.

By contrast, Posada flew under the radar, as he often does on this team, despite having won five world championships here and being a respected member of the Core Four along with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.

It has not been an easy season so far for the 38-year-old Posada, beset by injuries to his knee and right foot, which was broken by a foul ball back in May and caused him to miss 15 games.

And then there's the strain of catching itself, a grueling procession of deep knee bends night after night that eventually robs the most potent hitter of his effectiveness.

"Catching does take away from your hitting," Posada said. "You're banged up all the time, you're never 100 percent any day and there's so many things that can happen to you. It's a tough position, but I'm happy to be there."

It was suggested to Posada, who broke into professional baseball as a second baseman/shortstop, that maybe he should have stayed an infielder.

"Oh, no," he said with a laugh, looking across at Jeter, whose locker is across the doorway to the private lounge from his. "I wouldn't be here now."

Wallace Matthews is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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