On Sept. 22, 2014 yeahstub.com was invited to attend a special luncheon celebrating Derek Jeter presented by Hennessy V.S. Derek Jeter officially said goodbye to the New York Yankees. While he still has a few games left in the season, Monday was the official tribute to Number 2. Held at the historic Hudson Theatre in New York City, the event, hosted by Steiner Sports, almost reeked of glamour. No expense was spared to give a New York giant the New York farewell he deserves. Everyone trickled into the theatre, a mid-sized space with ornate detailing on the walls and balconies, all gold-colored and elaborate.
In the front of the auditorium were tables with the usual dining ware set up. Fans, businesspeople, journalists, and more were all seated elbow-to-elbow. At noon, lunch was served: a salad, dressed with grilled chicken, sautéed peppers, artichoke, and cherry tomatoes. For dessert was cheesecake topped with shaved white chocolate and strawberries on the side. Of particular note was the amazing drink selection complements of Hennessy – most any drink imaginable could be whipped up at a moments notice. All I know is that there aren’t many times you can feel good about sipping on an old-fashioned before one. Derek Jeter is the embodiment of the Hennessy V.S “Never stop. Never settle” mantra, bringing to life the brand’s ethos centered on the notion that great things can be achieved when individuals push the limits of their potential.
Finally, the main event began. Steiner Sports CEO Brandon Steiner took the stage with Derek Jeter for a conversation, a casual question and answer session between the two. Their banter was at once reverent and playful, the talk of two friends with a clear mutual respect for one another. Steiner began the presentation with a couple of goofy presents (two baseballs signed by him, two $2 bills); but the real gift was a donation to Jeter’s non-profit, the Turn 2 Foundation (a donation of $22,222).
Then began the talk, highlights of which are below:
Steiner: I’m just wondering: When your career’s over, you going to walk into a family function and they give you a standing ovation? Because you’ve had a whole season of amazing tributes. How do you feel about that?
Jeter: These seats [we’re in] are very uncomfortable.
S: Well, I can’t let you get too cozy here. This isn’t David Letterman.
J: It’s been fun. It’s been a fun year in terms of interaction with the fans, whether it’s here in New York or on the road it’s all been an overwhelming experience for me, and it’s something I never anticipated.
S: So… I have to ask you this.
J: You don’t have to ask me anything.
S: Just between us. You’ve had a whole year, and you still look marvelous. I mean, can we talk you out of this? Think you’d ever come back?
J: No. No, no. This is my last year.
S: Are you sure?
S: On a scale of 1 to 100?
J: …which one is going home?
S: What are you planning for retirement?
J: I have things in the works. But I’ve always had a tough time focusing on more than one thing. I’ve spent my entire life, pretty much, focusing on this job. So I’ll have plenty of things to focus on when my career’s over with, but we still have games left.
S: Are things still up in the air as far as your plan?
J: Up in the air?
S: What’re you going to do? You going to some senior homes? Assisted living?
J: [to audience] Brandon’s twice my age.
S: Now if you’ve been getting older, then I’ve been getting older.
J: We’ve all been getting older. But I’ve got no plans. I’ve been on a schedule my entire life.
S: Has this season been the way you’ve imagined it to be?
J: I didn’t want to go into it imagining anything. Just wanted to experience it. But at the same time, we’re trying to win games, so in that sense it’s been pretty much the same. But, you know, as you’ve gotten towards the end it’s become very special for me.
S: You’re still feeling you can win seven in a row here?
J: Well, we have to win today – one game at a time.
S: Give me a couple of you’re favorite moments that you’ve experienced at the stadium. We know winning’s always one of them.
J: Yeah, winning is one of the most special moments, but I’ve had a lot of personal moments – you know: 3000 hits. Now, pretty much every time I take the field it’s a special moment. You know, but all the moments include the fans. The fans are the ones (and I’m not just saying this because there’s Yankees fans here)… the fans are the ones that make it special. Because that’s what we do it for.
S: Who did you look up to when you were a kid?
J: Winfield. Dave Winfield. All these younger kids in here that actually don’t go outside and play, they sit and home and [play] video games, or they specialize in one sport. Dave was drafted in baseball, basketball, and football. He’s the only player still to this day to be drafted to all three. So, he pretty much did everything.
S: You had a game that you played besides baseball. You’re second sport?
J: I was, yes.
S: Probably a ball hog… You’re tall, probably tough to guard against.
J: How long are we up here for?
S: We got a few more minutes. You’ve had an amazing career. Anything surreal to you now that you look back?
J: The whole thing. I mean, you know, when you’re a kid it’s like, it’s here. My dream was to play shortstop for the Yankees, and that’s where it stopped. You know, you just want to make it to the major leagues.
S: There’s so much talk about the numbers. But how important is teamwork and chemistry?
J: It’s funny you say that, because when teams win everyone says they had great chemistry; when they lose they say they had terrible chemistry. You know, what is team chemistry? My opinion is when you have enough people who care about winning and enough people who losing affects. That’s what chemistry means to me. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win, but you’re going to have enough people on the same page. It’s almost impossible, I think, to get everyone on the same page, but it’s gotta mean something to you.
S: Is there a moment, being the Captain, the leader, is there a moment that you think about where you impacted the team or something that had happened where you had an effect?
J: Well, I’d like to think I’ve had an effect a lot of days.
S: I think we all would agree to that.
J: What I mean by that – not to toot my own horn – I’m saying, what I mean by that is you have to have accountability. There’s responsibility, but there’s also accountability. You have to be accountable for your actions. You have to stand at your locker when things are going bad. You want to sneak out? Sneak out when things go good. It bothers me when people have good games and stand in front of their locker waiting for the media, then they have bad games and sneak out the back. So, I’ve always tried to be accountable and responsible. And I try to do that every day.
S: Just between us, and the few people, obviously, that are here, is there something that no one else knows about you that you can share with us? Something that would surprise us?
J: Well, if you don’t know it it’s by design. I don’t want you to know that. There’s a lot of things you don’t know about me.
S: So have the list of “What I’ll let out of the bag and what I won’t let out of the bag?”
J: Well, no. I just think that your private life is private. What I do is obviously public, I get that. I get the fact that people are interested. I’m interested in a lot of people as well. I’ve just chosen to stay as private as possible.
S: Take me ten years from now. What sort of hopes and dreams do you have?
J: Ten years from now? Well, I’d like to have a family. I think I look forward to that. I just have not been able to… There’s no way I, personally, could have done it. You know, too selfish. I guess I was a little too selfish to be able to juggle a family and kids, but I look forward to doing that. And I want to be an owner of a team at some point.
S: Marriage and kids: That’s something part of the future for you?
J: Future, yeah.
S: Will you be a strict father?
J: Will I be strict? I will be strict. I think I’ll be similar to how my parents were.
S: Turn 2 – is that something you want to see evolve into more sort of a national thing? Or do you like the size of it?
J: It’s tough. It’s grown bigger and better than we ever thought it was gonna be. […] I don’t really know how much more we can expand, but there’s plenty of kids to help out.
S: 20 years. It feels like it went past in the blink of an eye. When you look back on it, what jumps out at you? Is it the fans? Is it the restaurants? The cities? The stadium? Old stadium?
J: All of it. I’m trying not to reminisce yet.
S: You can! Take a few minutes!
J: It’s tough, you know. I play a game where you’re supposed to control your emotions. I mean, it’s a game of failure – you’re going to fail more than you succeed, and you have to be able to control it. That’s why at times this year’s been difficult. You go places and they show a video montage of you, and you feel as though you’re dying.
S: So are you telling me you prepared for tonight’s game like you prepare for the World Series?
J: I prepare for the games all the same.
S: Non-teammates – can you name a couple that really enjoy watching, really respect?
J: I respect guys more so for how they handle themselves as opposed to just what they do onfield. I don’t want to mention a name because I’ll forget somebody, but for me it’s more about how you treat other people and how you handle yourself.
S: You feeling pretty well? Could you play another season if you wanted to?
J: I could. I feel like I could, but I don’t want to.
S: But you could physically?
J: Physically I feel fine.
S: In closing, is there anything else you want to share?
J: The fans. I’ve said it time and time again: It’s why we play the game. And my career wouldn’t have been as special without the fans, so thank you once again.
After their discussion, the floor was briefly opened up to the audience.
Q: What are your feelings about winding things down at Fenway?
J: It’s not… I guess it’s not surprising, when you think about it. If I couldn’t finish my career here, it’s only fitting, I guess, it’s in Boston.
Q: How were you able to stay so consistently confident throughout your career?
J: Well, you know, it can be difficult at times. It can be very difficult at times. But I always tended to try to look at past performances where I was successful. I try to think about those. And if you’re 0 for 20, 0 for 30, in my mind, the chance of you getting a hit really increases. If I’m 0 for 20, I think I’m a better hitter when I go to the plate. So I guess you try to trick yourself. But yeah, I always try to take from past performances. You never try to get too high or too low. Just play every game, just treat every game like it’s the same.
Stephen Jones contributed reporting.