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Stepping Up to the Plate


Laura Posada has learned to handle—with grace and determination—all that life’s thrown at herlaura-posadaBy the time Laura Posada had received her bachelor’s degree and law degree from Loyola University in New Orleans in the mid-1990s, she had already made her mark as a model, actress and all-around intelligent, beautiful person. Posada (known then as Laura Mendez) went on to become an attorney, handling mostly bankruptcy cases, and continued to work in television, primarily in Puerto Rico. After New York Yankees catcher and fellow Puerto Rican native Jorge Posada became completely smitten with her, Posada married the four-time World Series champion and continued to live a charmed life—until son Jorge Luis was born with craniosynostosis, a medical disorder where the sutures in an infant’s head fuse prematurely and possibly affect the growth of the head and brain. Living out the nightmare of their son’s multiple surgeries and the difficulty of finding information about his condition inspired the Posadas to found the Jorge Posada Foundation, which provides awareness of craniosynostosis along with emotional support and financial assistance for families of children born with it in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Continuing her tireless mission to disseminate information about the condition, this dynamic mother of two, together with her Major League husband, recently wrote Fit Home Team: The Posada Family Guide to Health, Exercise, and Nutrition the Inexpensive and Simple Way, set for release this month by Simon & Schuster. The book sets an easy-to-follow, admirable and honest example for readers interested in getting their families fit. Posada’s valiant efforts and beauty—inside and out—have been recognized with the Commitment to Family Award from the Girls and Boys Town of New York and JCPenney’s Luminous Beauty Award. She is also known in the sports world as the “Hottest Yankee Wife.” With a surge of recent media appearances, such as her profile on Baseball Wives: The E! True Hollywood Story, Posada has proved she’s a bona fide natural on television and her star is truly beginning to shine. New Orleans Living can say we knew her when!

Laura! You’ve got so much going on I don’t know where to start with you!

Oh my God! Christine, it’s been crazy! You know I got married to Jorge and everything was great, then we had little Jorge born in the late 1990s with craniosynostosis. It was the one thing that changed everything.

I know that you had a very carefree life up until then.

Yeah! Well, you knew me back then; you knew that my biggest worry was where we were going to party that night! [Laughs] Living was easy, school was easy; I had many friends, my parents supported me all throughout school, everything was so easy. And then when Jorge was born with craniosynostosis, it was the first thing in my life that I couldn’t control; it was out of my hands. It hit me really hard.

Hearing about all the multiple surgeries little Jorge had to endure is heartbreaking.

Yeah! With surgery when they’re babies, they make you wear the full gear and you bring him to the OR and just leave him there. The first time I had to do that he was 7 months old. They have the pictures and the X-rays of him and the MRIs all around the room. It’s so cold and so dark. You put him down, and then they put the mask on him that smells like bubblegum. He looks like he’s dead when you’re walking away.

It was truly horrible that your family had to experience this. But maybe in some strange way it was meant to be, since you were in the position to do something about it and create the Jorge Posada Foundation.

Definitely! When I met Jorge, I was back working in Puerto Rico with my brother’s friend who’s an attorney. I had a great job, I was working on TV, I didn’t want to get married ever, I didn’t want to have kids—you remember that! [Laughs] Then I meet this guy and he had this obsession; he really was like, I’m gonna marry this girl! He remembered that he had met me 10 years before, and he finally convinced me to marry him and then Jorge was born with this. And I thought, “Oh my God, why did this happen to me?” Then there’s a point when the light switches on and you say, “Why not?” What makes me such a special person, because no one is immune to sickness. And that’s when you realize maybe this happened to me because I’m in the position to make a difference. Because there’s nobody else out there talking about it, people are just hiding these kids that have this condition, so maybe this is what we have to do.

What are the statistics for the number of children born with craniosynostosis?

It’s something like one in every 2,000. That’s a lot! This charity thing of ours exists because lots of doctors aren’t really educated about it, so it’s often misdiagnosed because the cases aren’t so extreme like Jorge’s case was. That’s sad, because those cases end up with brain damage and other serious conditions because they weren’t treated on time. It’s critical to treat it on time with surgery and that’s why we do all these all these interviews and events to raise awareness. I assure you, some people will read this interview and think, “Hey, wait, the shape of my friend’s daughter’s head isn’t perfect, let me tell her, maybe she’ll have her checked out.” We’ve been able to make a difference just by creating awareness of what the condition is.

Besides awareness, your foundation provides other types of support for families.

Yes. The mentors program is amazing, because when I was going through this in the beginning, I locked myself in my house and didn’t talk to anybody and just tried to handle everything myself. I look back and I think that was a mistake, because I felt so lonely, frustrated, upset and desperate. Also, I was scared because I hadn’t seen any other little boy or girl that had craniosynostosis. Now, by talking to other parents, they can see that Jorge is 9 years old and he’s doing great, even though he went through eight surgeries. We’re still here, he’s normal, he looks great, he feels great and now it’s just a bad memory. And our mentors keep growing and they’re really excited to participate and to help other families. Sometimes people don’t need financial assistance; they just want to talk to you and hear that everything’s going to be okay. That’s more important than any money in the world.

The annual Heroes4Hope Gala, which benefits the foundation, will be held this year at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York City on September 10.

Yes, and this year we’re honoring 20 Yankee catchers; Jorge chose his top 20 catchers. We’re going to have Yogi Berra, who’s probably everyone’s favorite, and another 19. If they have passed away, like Thurman Munson, we’re going to have his wife, and it’s going to be a really fun night. And what’s really cool is we have Jon Secada performing this year. You might remember that Jon Secada’s “Angel” was my favorite song in school!

I remember a lot of things about you, like how good you were at rapping in Spanish! You could’ve had a record deal! And yet another amazing accomplishment for you is that your new book, Fit Home Team, debuts this month. It’s written in an approachable, appealing way with some great, practical fitness advice and recipes.

Thank you! I wanted to make it easy to read, like a guide to have in every home. I learned a lot while writing the book, and I think it’s really sad that in school they don’t teach you how to take care of yourself or what you should eat or about exercise. As a mom, you want the best for your children, but sometimes you just don’t know any better. And in this economy people don’t have the money to have a personal trainer and stuff, plus they don’t have the time. So in this book they’re going to get ideas on how to get fit together and that way go back to the values Jorge and I had with our families when we were growing up. It’s not rocket science, and I’m not an expert; I’m just telling people what works for us as a family.

Fit Home Team focuses on taking charge and setting a physical example for your family to follow instead of just talking about it. You’ve got to get up and do it!

Yeah, if you’re a couch potato and you just sit there and eat Cheetos and drink Coke all day, that’s probably what your kids will do. Six-year-olds don’t have a choice with food, they eat what you give them! The activities they do are the ones you involve them in. As a parent, you’re in control. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be a freak about it, but you have to motivate them and find things they like to do. I don’t like ice skating, but I’m always up for bicycle riding. I love it!

I love the personal stories you included in the book, like when you were a girl in Puerto Rico, your family piled up in the car to go visit your grandparents and stopped at the fruit vendors along the way, and your grandparents’ home was surrounded by all the great trees dripping with fruits like mangoes and avocados.

Yes! You remember those things; I remember those road trips and planting trees with my cousins. It was so much fun. People nowadays forget about those sorts of things. Everybody’s in their own room watching TV and eating pizza and not spending any time together. We’re just trying to remind people to spend time and have fun with your family. Your children grow up and then you can’t go back to those times.

When we were in law school together at Loyola, we’d talk about how much we both loved New York, so it’s amazing you wound up there.

New York has been amazing for us. I think the exposure that the foundation has had has been possible because Jorge is a Yankee and because we’re in New York. Maybe if we were with another team, we might not have this much exposure. So I really appreciate everything the city and also the team has to offer because they’ve been great. Now I’m actually the wives’ rep for the team; it’s the first time we’ve had one and it’s really fun. And I’m one of the oldest ones there now! [Laughs]

And still one of the hottest Yankee wives!

Oh my God! They did that again this year! This is funny: I was out of town, and I got back and went to the supermarket after going to the gym with a hat and sneakers on, thinking I looked so bad. I’m paying for my groceries and the delivery guy goes, “Wait, I have something for you,” and he shows me The Post with a full page of me as the “Hottest Yankee Wife.” I thought I would to die! I was so embarrassed! I was like “I bet I look great now, huh?” and we just started laughing. But he was sweet to save it for me.

Is it true that Jorge and Derek Jeter, the best man at your wedding, got in trouble with the Yankees because you cooked for them and they showed up late to work?

It’s not true! [Laughs] I did cook for them, but they were late because they didn’t want to leave. I was late cooking and they blamed me and they got me in trouble with Joe Torre at the time. It wasn’t my fault! So please print that it wasn’t my fault! They were late because they ate too much and they were sitting on the couch and they didn’t want to leave. But yeah, they blamed me, so thank you!

You went to Loyola for college and law school. Do you miss New Orleans?

Oh, I miss everything about it! The food, the restaurants, the French Quarter, riding my bike down St. Charles Avenue to Audubon Park and hanging out. I miss Camellia Grill, I miss all the great music and the concerts, and I miss the Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras and the floats. I miss my friends from college. I miss the fact that sometimes I’d get out of class and go, “Where’s my bike! Somebody stole my bike!” And I had walked to school that day! I miss those dumb moments that I had, and I did that more than once! [Laughs] New Orleans was a great city for me. I really want to come back and visit!

We’re seeing you lots these days on TV, like on the Today show and on The E! True Hollywood Story: Baseball Wives and in magazines, but I know we’ll be seeing even more of you soon … how exciting!

Yes! I’ve put my life on hold while taking care for little Jorge and making the foundation grow. And my husband’s always traveling, so I’ve had to take care of everybody and give up things that I wanted to do. But I think destiny is getting aligned in my favor and I’m so happy now that everything is okay. So I’m going to try and go out there and live my life, then when Jorge stops playing baseball hopefully he’ll be “Mr. Mom” [laughs] and I can go out there and follow my dre

Laura, to think of all the people that benefit from your drive is remarkable. You really could sit around and do nothing if you chose to.

Thank you, Christine! I can’t do that; I’d feel useless and frustrated. I’m not a person that’s going to sit there and watch life pass me by. And my kids learn from that. They know what we do. If you ask Paulina what she wants to do when she’s older, she wants to work with the foundation, and Jorge [Jr.] gets up onstage and gives his speech in front of 650 people and he’s not shy about it, and that’s awesome! So many people need help, and if I can help one family a day and make a difference, that makes me feel so good.