SF Giants legend Buster Posey becomes latest athlete to join team ownership

Left to right, Kristen Posey, Buster Posey, Greg Johnson and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi for the San Francisco Giants at a press conference announcing the retirement of Buster Posey from Major League Baseball at Oracle Park on Nov. 4, 2021 in San Francisco.?

Left to right, Kristen Posey, Buster Posey, Greg Johnson and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi for the San Francisco Giants at a press conference announcing the retirement of Buster Posey from Major League Baseball at Oracle Park on Nov. 4, 2021 in San Francisco.?

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants couldn't keep Buster Posey away for long. While the future Hall of Famer's departure has left a cavernous hole on the field in a disappointing 2022 campaign, the organization announced Wednesday that Posey has joined their ownership group and board of directors, both franchise firsts for a former player.

Posey's rise from first round pick to MVP and World Series hero is, more than any other individual, the story of the magnificent previous decade of Giants baseball. The move, uncharted territory as it may be for the Giants organization, is part of a rising trend in professional sports of celebrities ?— particularly athletes — getting in on the action of ownership. Retired stars like Michael Jordan and Alex Rodriguez have publicly owned or taken ownership of organizations in majority roles, but far more often the stakes are so small as to be nearly symbolic.

Posey says his role will be "fun" and not "prominent." But controversial Giants owner Charles Johnson, whom Posey has called a "friend," said the former catcher will take a "really active role in every aspect of the team." Many teams employ longtime stars in ambiguous roles like "Special Advisor" for this purpose already, but Posey's ascension to the ownership level elevates his status, while also helping Johnson and the Giants to borrow some of his cachet and trust as a public face.

This "star-washing" of ownership groups is not inherently insidious, but it's worth being mindful of given plenty of recent precedent with stars like Derek Jeter and Dwyane Wade. Just this past winter, widely beloved Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. joined the ownership group of the Seattle Mariners in a fashion nearly identical to Posey, following the ignominious ousting of disgraced former team president and minority owner Kevin Mather earlier that year.

As players retire with greater cash flow and increasing business savvy to their industries' immense earnings, we are likely to continue seeing these moves. If MLB franchise valuations are any indication, they're just about the safest investment anyone with a few hundred million lying around can make, despite Rob Manfred's cries of poverty. Just don't forget why the more anonymous billionaires in charge are so eager to have beloved faces like Posey on board.