New York Yankees fans who never got a chance to wish former-Yankees catcher Jorge Posada a final "Hip Hip Jorge!" will get a chance to do just that— only sooner than expected.
Tomorrow, Posada will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Bronx Bombers' home opener at Yankee Stadium. This makes it Posada's 17th straight appearance at a home opener on the field— only this time he will not be in a uniform.
The team will welcome back the only member of the Core Four still not with the team after spending his entire 16-year career in pinstripes.
"I think it's going to be all kind of emotional, knowing Jorge," said his longtime teammate Mariano Rivera. "At the same time, he'll be happy. We'll be happy. I will be happy to see him."
The borderline Hall of Fame catcher will be on the mound and toss the first pitch before the Yankees host Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels at 1:05 pm on Friday. The pre-game festivities start at 12:40.
Posada, 40, will feted Thursday night with the "Pride of the Yankees Award" at the team's 2012 Homecoming Dinner. Surprisingly, Posada will be only the 11th former Yankees player to do the honor including Mike Mussina, Bernie Williams, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Whitey Ford, Phil Rizzuto, Mel Stottlemyre, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Bob Shawkey.
Posada's appearance so soon after retiring is kind of a surprise. Most players usually wait a couple of years before making a grand re-entrance and most insiders thought Posada would go that route.
After a difficult 2011 season— where the catcher struggled at the plate, was dropped in the lineup and lost his starting job— Posada was last seen at the Stadium cutting short a postgame interview after a Game 5 loss to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS because he was tearing up.
Told that his close friend would be coming back to the Bronx so soon, Derek Jeter said," I am sure it wasn't his idea, but it doesn't surprise me."
Jeter told reporters that Posada's return would be a positive experience in the fiery catcher's first year of retirement.
"It's good for him. It will be nice," said Jeter. "It will be a special moment for him and he will enjoy it; I don't want to speak for him but I can only imagine I'm sure he'll get a pretty big ovation."
Maybe he'll pull an Andy Pettitte and return. Russell Martin is only batting .200.