The curtain has officially closed on the remarkable career of New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter. He was pulled in the third inning of Sunday’s season finale against the rival Boston Red Sox for a pinch runner, after slapping an RBI infield single in his final at bat.
What followed was a standing ovation from the gathered fans at Fenway Park, who momentarily put aside the iconic rivalry, and paid respect to their longtime foe. The Yankees would go on to win the game by a score of 9-5.
The BoSox also paid tribute to Jeter prior to the contest. In a ceremony that featured former Boston Bruins captain Bobby Orr, former New England Patriots captain Troy Brown and former Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce (who even donned the green of his former team despite currently playing for the Washington Wizards), Jeter was presented with a pair of commemorative L.L. Bean Yankees boots and a sign reading “RE2PECT” in the Fenway font.
Jeter was also presented with a base by the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia, all while the Fenway scoreboard on the iconic Green Monster read “WITH RE2PECT 2 DEREK JETER”. Several Red Sox legends also were on hand to pay tribute to Jeter, including Carl Yastrzemski (who Jeter passed on the all-time hits list this season), Jim Rice, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. Led by David Ortiz, the current Red Sox followed suit. Current BoSox third base coach Brian Butterfield (who was instrumental in Jeter’s development when he was coming up in the Yankees organization) was also on hand. Boston also presented Jeter with a $22,222.22 check for his Turn 2 Foundation.
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the ceremony was when former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates joined the contingent on the field. Suffering from ALS, Frates is considered the driving force behind the Ice Bucket Challenge. Jeter ran to greet Frates on the grass, as his wheelchair was making its way onto the field.
Jeter leaves behind a legacy that rivals any of the Yankee greats. A five-time World Series champion, Jeter is the league’s all-time leader in postseason games played, hits, runs, doubles, triples and total bases. He ranks sixth on baseball’s all-time regular season hits list, he has also won five Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers. He is the Yankees’ all-time leader in games played, at bats, hits, stolen bases and doubles; and despite not being known for his power, is also ninth in home runs.
Jeter’s retirement marks the end of an era. He was the last remaining active member of the “Core Four” (which consists of Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada).
Like Ruth, DiMaggio and Mantle before him, Jeter represents the face of the Yankees for an entire generation of fans. His time in pinstripes may be over, but his legacy will live on for years to come. A legacy defined by hard work, professionalism and respect for the game; a respect that if this season showed us anything, was mutual.