Warszawski: Posey post office gets announcer's stamp of approval (video)

The Fresno BeeApril 24, 2014 

— We depart Fresno at 8:45 a.m. and drive south on Highway 99 in the shadows of semi trucks before exiting at Delano and turning east into the foothills. I'm at the wheel and Doug Greenwald is in the passenger seat admiring the scenery and watching out for snakes.

We're headed for Posey.

"I'm glad you're driving and not me," Greenwald says.

The Fresno Grizzlies' longtime play-by-play voice had never heard of this Tulare County hamlet of cabins and ranches until I told him about it a few years ago.

Which, to be honest, probably puts him the vast majority.

But Greenwald has been anxious to visit. Not because Posey happens to be the last name of a certain All-Star catcher who plays for the San Francisco Giants, the team he grew up around. He's looking forward to visiting the post office.

You see, Greenwald has a certain fascination with post offices. Yes, post offices. His Facebook page contains photographs of nearly 3,000 of them in 49 states. Large post offices, small offices, major cities, tiny towns, the 39-year-old son of former Giants broadcaster Hank Greenwald doesn't discriminate. One of Doug's favorites is the main post office in New York, which encompasses an entire city block.

As a general rule, though, the smaller and more off the beaten path, the better. Just as long as there aren't snakes.

"Post offices are the one common denominator between the smallest, most far out towns in America and the biggest cities," Greenwald says.

"Just about every town has one. Not every town has a school, a church or a hospital. But they've got a post office. And some places the post office is pretty much the only thing in the town."

Traveling is a job requirement for Greenwald. This is his 18th season as a minor-league baseball announcer, 12 of them with the Grizzlies. He calls Giants games during spring training and has held a variety of college basketball jobs.

Photographing post offices is his way of chronicling that journey. Greenwald has been to the country's smallest post office (Ochopee, Florida) as well as the second smallest (Baskett, Kentucky). He knows the post office in Thompson, Utah, is a little pink hut while the one in East Peoria, Illinois, is a converted Burger King.

Greenwald has visited post offices from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Key West, Florida. He can tell you about four or five in Philadelphia or a new one he recently discovered in Los Angeles. He gave a quick hello to Hye, Texas, where a young Lyndon Baines Johnson used to mail letters. Then there was that time in Stamps, Arkansas.

"I walked inside and told the postal clerk, 'I'd like to buy some stamps in Stamps,' " he says in typical deadpan.

We don't bother stopping in any of the towns en route because Greenwald has already been to them. Not just Pixley and Earlimart but Terra Bella, too. Plus Raymond, Big Creek and Badger.

Fortunately, Greenwald brought along a list of other nearby post offices missing from his collection. Besides Posey, we're hitting up Woody, Glennville and California Hot Springs.

I point out that Woody also has a Giants theme in that it was the nickname of left-hander Kirk Rueter.

But Glennville has me stumped. I can't think of any Glenns who played on the Giants, but Greenwald instantly recalls Mike Glendenning.

"Good guy," he says. "I had him in Shreveport for two years."

If there's one subject Greenwald knows even better than post offices, it's Giants minor-leaguers. His knowledge of them borders on encyclopedic.

Besides, we can't make too many stops because Greenwald wants to be back in Fresno by a certain time even though the Grizzlies are enjoying a rare off day between home series.

Why? Because he wants to go to the Fresno State game, of course.

You'd think 144 baseball games shoehorned into five months would be enough for anyone. Not Greenwald. If the Grizzlies are playing a day game, he might go see the Visalia Rawhide or Modesto Nuts at night. Same holds true on the road, when he'll jump in a car and drive hours to see an extra game.

"People give me a joking bad time about it, yes," Greenwald says. "But I enjoy visiting ballparks and seeing friends in the broadcasting booth."

About the only thing Greenwald doesn't enjoy about traveling by car is winding roads. Oh, and snakes. He's deathly afraid of snakes.

"I don't like them," he says. "They're scary. They're dangerous. They're poisonous. They're slimy. They give me the shivers. You don't know what their next move is going to be."

I ask if he's ever seen a snake during his travels, at least one that wasn't behind thick glass.

"No, I don't think I have."

The Posey post office is everything Greenwald had hoped. Along the road is a painted wooden sign that reads "Posey CA 93260" and as a bonus it's open. Inside, the clerk shows us photographs of the old schoolhouse that used to be on this site and tells us the current post office serves about 135 people.

Greenwald also gets the Posey postage stamp on a piece of paper. Yes, he collects those, too.

Back outside, I have Doug pose for a picture next to the sign. But he's a little wary of the calf-high grass that surrounds it -- could be snakes in there. So I tramp down the area first.

Now that he's been to Posey, I ask Greenwald if he thinks Buster Posey, who played 82 games at Triple-A Fresno in 2009-10, would also want to visit.

"Buster might be interested to know there's a Posey, California, but I don't know if he'd be in a rush to see it," he says. "Not as much as I'd like to see Greenwald, Minnesota."

In case you're wondering, there's a post office in Greenwald.

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6218, marekw@fresnobee.com or @MarekTheBee on Twitter.

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