Baseball Legend Derek Jeter’s Final Exit
This afternoon's game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at Fenway Park meant nothing in the standings, as both team's season's were coming to an end. It did, however, mean as much as any game ever has to me and many other Derek Jeter fans, as it was the final time we will ever see the iconic Yankees shortstop play a major league baseball game.As I sit here, trying to put my own twist on the final days of Jeter's immaculate career and with a postgame montage in his honor playing in the background, I am fighting back tears of both joy and sadness. A sentiment that I am sure is shared by countless other men, woman and children today.
To put it as simply as possible: for me and many others, Derek Jeter is the New York Yankees. Derek Jeter is Baseball. When I think of people I admire, Jeter tops the list. Growing up as a passionate sports fan and a die-hard Yankee one at that, I've always looked up to the man they call El Capitán. He's done everything the right way and led not only on the field but off of it as well.
Obviously for me, being a Yankee fan has allowed me to watch Jeter my entire life and really soak his greatness up in, not only the past few seasons but, just about every one he's played in. While I and other Yankee fans have been spoiled by his tremendous play and character the past 20 years, everyone else has seen at least glimpses of it as well.
There's no greater evidence of that than the scene we all saw today at Fenway Park as even the Red Sox, Jeter's biggest rival over the past two decades, honored him and all he's done for the game. Boston's ceremony for Jeter was truly top notch. The Sox honored Jeter's career by sending former captains from the organization and iconic captains Bobby Orr, Troy Brown and Paul Pierce of the other Boston sports teams out to greet him on the field. They also honored him with a donation to his Turn 2 foundation, a pinstripe decorated second base and scoreboard sign which read "RE2PECT," and a meeting with ALS Ice Bucket Challenge founder and ALS survivor Pete Frates.
While every one of Jeter's opponents and their fans have acknowledged him this season with gifts, donations and cheers, the Boston ceremony was in its own class. Seeing the respect not only the Red Sox organization but its otherwise less-than-enthusiastic-about-Yankees fan base offered up to Jeter shows just how much he means to the game of baseball's greatest rivalry and to the game itself. Even Yankee fans have to respect the respect Boston showed to their unquestioned leader by continuously chanting "De-rek Je-ter" every chance they got.
A day like this shows everybody how much one truly great player and even better man can help everyone who sees him play love the game, regardless of where their allegiance lies. I honestly believe we will never see another Derek Jeter, in any sport. I am also so thankful to have lived my life in the Derek Jeter era and to have learned how to play and how to act from him. And it seems as though, many other non-Yankee fans and Yankee fans alike feel the same way.