Surrounded by family, friends, legends and teammates both young and old; there was no star shining brighter in the Bronx on Sunday than that of New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter.
Prior to their game against the Kansas City Royals, the Yankees honored Jeter with a 45-minute ceremony. Former manager Joe Torre was in attendance; as were legends Reggie Jackson and Cal Ripkin Jr. Longtime teammates Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada came to pay their respects, as did former minor leaguer Michael Jordan (who did find some amount of success in a different sport).
But the spotlight was focused solely on Jeter; something he tried to avoid in his 20-year career. On this day, he had no choice but to embrace it.
“It was awesome; it was something that I’ll always remember,” said Jeter. “The Yankees know how to throw good ceremonies. To be a part of it, having all those people come out and show their support, and the fans the way they’ve treated me, this is a day that I’ll remember forever.”
The Yankees presented Jeter with an engraved crystal, a massage machine and a check for Jeter’s Turn2 Foundation worth $222,222.22. If nothing else, it was a sign that the respect and admiration between club and player was mutual.
“I had the greatest job in the world,” said Jeter. “I got to play shortstop for the New York Yankees, and there’s only one of those.”
But the job is not finished for Jeter. The Yankees are still in the hunt in the American League wildcard race, currently sitting four and a half games out. The way in which the 40-year-old Jeter finished his speech on Sunday epitomized the way in which he has conducted himself throughout his entire career.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much,” he said. “We’ve got a game to play.”
The Yankees would fall to the Royals that day by a score of 2-0. Derek Jeter did his part, going 1-for-3 with a walk, but it was not enough. Still, this will be a day that Yankees faithful with reflect upon fondly; as Jeter took his rightful place amongst the other icons that have donned the pinstripes.
Jeter currently sits in sixth place on the MLB’s all-time hits list with 3,450, reciently passing Honus Wagner for the most ever by a shortstop. He has been part of five World Series Championships and holds several records for the storied Yankee franchise. Nicknamed “Mr. November”, he is at his best in the postseason. Jeter holds the MLB playoff records for games played, hits and runs scored. For his part, Jeter is still hopeful that he will get the chance to add to those totals.
“We’re still in a position, if we win our games, we’ll be all right,” he said.