Friday, September 26, 2014
Farewell to Derek the Great
By Howard Goldin
Derek Jeter played his final game in Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. The largest paid attendance of the year (48,613) came to witness Jeter’s farewell appearance in the Bronx. Many of those present expended an exorbitant amount of money to scalpers to be able to see the special event. It was a magical night that ended in an appropriate way.
Since the opportunity for the Yankees to qualify for the playoffs ended after the previous night’s game, the focus for Yankee fans was solely upon Jeter. The elimination of the chances of the Yankees to advance to the next level also freed Jeter to think about his career and show his appreciation to the fans.
Immediately before the start of the game, a video was shown that displayed the gratitude of the people of the city to Jeter for what he means to them. The video ended and the Yankees immediately took the field. The fans in the ballpark responded with a standing ovation and the chanting of Jeter’s name. Jeter answered by tipping his cap.
He has throughout his career and repeatedly in his final season acknowledged his appreciation of their support. He spoke of his relationship with the fans in a lengthy post-game press conference that was shown on the giant screen in centerfield to the fans who were invited to remain after the game concluded.
He asked, “In what job do you hear 40-50,000 people chanting your name? I see signs “Thank you Derek” and I say, ‘What for? I’m just trying to do my job.’ I want to thank everyone here. They’re [the fans] the ones that made this special.”
Asked about what he thinks brings out so much support for him from the fans, he replied, “I care about one thing, winning. I don’t think anyone played harder, maybe as hard but not harder. I did it here in New York, and I think it’s harder here.”
Speaking about the farewell tour, Jeter admitted, “The whole year has been special, but at times difficult. I’ve appreciated it all, but it feels like watching your own funeral.” He explained that hearing the constant praise and seeing the focus on him makes him uncomfortable.
He also discussed his emotions, “I have emotions; I think I’m pretty good at hiding them, controlling them.” Yet on his last game at Yankee Stadium, he felt less control of his emotions,” I don’t know that I ever thought ‘please don’t hit it to me’ I thought I would break down.”
He also felt that emotion “when my teammates presented me with something before the game today, a painting and a special watch.”
He was again asked why he decided to retire after this year. His answer was the same as on previous occasions, “I felt like I’ve been doing it a long time. I feel like I could still play, but I don’t want to. I wanted to call it a career.”
Jeter performed in a heroic manner as befits someone special. In his first trip to the plate, Jeter doubled to score Brett Gardner, who had singled.
Jeter made out in the second and fifth innings as the score remained tied at 2.
With the bases loaded in the seventh, Jeter was safe on an error, in which two runs scored and the Yankee captain recorded his second run batted in of the contest.
Jeter’s final chance to bat came in the bottom of the ninth with the score knotted at 5. Rookie Jose Pirela began the frame with a single. Gardner moved pinch runner Antoan Richardson to second on a sacrifice bunt. To the surprise of no one who believes in miracles, Jeter drove in the winning run for the ninth walk-off win for the Yankees in 2014.
Jeter was very happily greeted by his current teammates and then by his former teammates who were now also on the field. He embraced the rest of the Core Four (Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera), Hideki Matsui, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Gerald Williams and their manager Joe Torre. Jeter described them in the following words, “These guys are like brothers and Mr. T. like a second father.”
The Yankee shortstop decided on the day of his final stadium game to not play shortstop in his three remaining games in Boston, “I played my last game at shortstop. I wanted to take something special from Yankee Stadium and New York.”
Jeter’s summary of his remarkable career is, “It was above and beyond anything I ever dreamed of. I’ve lived a dream.”
Posted by Bronx News at 10:09 AM
Monday, September 8, 2014
Still a Class Act(Photos by Gary Quintal)
Derek Jeter gives his preliminary goodbye in the Bronx
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 8- The assumption is Derek Jeter will be on the field at Yankee Stadium for the last time as an active player in three weeks because the Yankees in all probability will miss the postseason for a second straight year. So on Sunday afternoon the Yankees gave him a fitting and preliminary goodbye tribute.
You can say that the Yankees gave him an early
goodbye retirement party in order to keep fans in the stands and to profit on Jeter commemorative patches, shirts, and anything that sells with his name. The good thing is the Yankees and their fans still have Derek Jeter for another three weeks.
And for the next 21 games, assuming Jeter plays everyday, he will still be here. As he did so many times over an illustrious 20-year career he answered every question. Jeter never turned down an interview for a daily newspaper reporter, or for that matter someone who was not seen often on the Yankees beat writing for a weekly publication.
And as much as we all want Jeter to reevaluate his decision about retiring from the game of baseball, one that that places him among the greats, it will becomemore difficult to say goodbye.
Because it is always difficult saying goodbye to a New York sports icon, and Derek Jeter may have been more than that.
“Today you think about it about all the things that are being said, but today I was trying not to think about it,” Jeter said about closure from the game, and that there are still games to played with his team having an outside chance to be that second wild card team.
He added, “Fortunately there is a little more time.” The hope was always that this final season would result in the Yankees going to another postseason and to do it for the Captain.
But the Yankees from the onset of this season havenever been able to resemble a playoff team. As it was again on Jeter’s day, they failed to score runs and were shutout for a second time in three games by the central division leading Kansas City Royals.
Said Jeter about his day after he came off the playing field, “It was awesome, something I will always remember. The Yankee know how to throw big ceremonies. This is a day I will remember forever.”
He thanked the fans on the field and again when he met the media in the Yankees press conference room. Jeter has never been comfortable speaking about this farewell to baseball, but those extended family of fans made it easier.
“Anyone who is here today, anyone who is at homewatching, anyone who has ever been over the course, over the last 20 seasons, thank you very much. You guys have watched me grow up over the last 20 years. I've watched you, too. Some of you guys are getting older, too. I want to thank you for helping me feel like a kid the last 20 years.”
Jeter was surprised by a few of the dignataries that showed up for his day, including another world champion he has associated with over the years, Michael Jordan, who knows something about farewell tours, saying thank you to the hometown fans and about being a good teammate, and leader on numerous championship teams.
“I appreciate it. I did not go into any expectations,” Jeter said. This retirement tour of ballparks has been different from the one Mariano Rivera received last year. Jeter is an everyday player as Rivera continued to become baseball’s all-time closer.
Jordan offered some advice, along with Dave Winfield and another legend, Cal Ripkin Jr. who all have been a part of the Derek Jeter legacy in one way or another.
“He’s prepared for this, he chose to step away from the game,” said Jordan. “His knowledge of the game is strong, he’s going to sit down with his family and think his next step.”
Jeter wants to move on with his life beyond baseball. He will be financially secure enough that could one day keep him in the game of baseball as an owner or in another capacity. Whatever he does, regardless, it will be successful.
On the field an era is coming to an end. The Yankees “Core Four” of Jeter, Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte has come to an end and there may never be another four similar in the years to come.”
“It was very strange kind of a different situation with three weeks left, a unique situation kind of tough to explain,” Jeter said about the ceremonial day in his honor. “At the same time, I am still trying to play a game.”
And at the same time, and as the days dwindle to a precious few it will harder to say goodbye to Derek Jeter.