Connect with us

MLB

The Legend That Is Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter has had a hand, rendered an assist, if you will, in turning more teammates into big-game winners than arguably any other player to ever sport the pinstripes.

Derek Jeter Spring Training
Derek Jeter Spring Training

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If Derek Jeter was a hooper he’d be on LeBron James’ Mt. Rushmore. Indeed, there’s a name and actually a stat for what Jeter has most excelled at over the course of his 19 seasons as leader of the  New York Yankees.

Truth is, Derek Sanderson Jeter has had a hand, rendered an assist, if you will, in turning more teammates into big-game winners than arguably any other player to ever sport the pinstripes. There was the flip play of 2001 against Arizona, his series-winning homer and rise as Mr. November in that same series, his 2004 reckless disregard, stands-diving catch against rival Boston and his ALCS tone-setting, albeit Jeffrey Maier aided, Game 1 homer against Baltimore in 1996.

But alas, even all amazing things must come to an end. And so it is after 19 seasons, more than 3,000 hits, 13 All-Star Game appearances, seven pennants and five world championships, Jeter bravely stepped to the podium this week to utter the words no mas for all of Baseball Nation to hear.

“I feel the time is right,” said the man who has always demonstrated an uncanny ability for capturing the moment. “There are other things I want to do.”

Now 39, Jeter stressed his decision has as much to do with his evolution as a man as it does with any falloff he’s experienced as a world-class athlete. He talked about wanting to start a family, extend his off-field business career and devote more time to all his philanthropic endeavors.

“Physically, I feel great, and I look forward to playing a full season,” echoed Jeter, who added he worked harder this winter than any previous one. “I’m not gone yet,” he added. “You want to be remembered as someone who played hard. The thing that means most to me is that I’ll always be remembered as a Yankee.”

And so much more. When asked to recall his favorite career moment, Jeter insisted it’s every time his Yankees have proven victorious. And he’s had as much to do with that as any other single person.

“The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward,” he reflected. “So really, it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. You can’t do this forever.”

As the Baseball Gods would have it, the last time Jeter will do it in a regular-season setting will come against the eternal rival Boston Red Sox in a three-game set to commence at the equally legendary Fenway Park on Sept. 26.

By then, much of the pomp and circumstance of this officially being the end of the Jeter era will have played out. Just know that none of it was ever deemed necessary by the man it is intended to salute.

“Being a Yankee is good enough for me,” said Jeter. “Once you’re a Yankee, you’re always a Yankee. That’s what I always wanted, to be a Yankee.

To a man, his teammates have vowed to do all they can to send him out a winner. But being the teammate he is, the captain he’s always prided himself on being, Derek Jeter won’t have any of it.

“It’s to send us all out on top,” he said. “It’s not just me going out on top.”

 

Click to comment

More in MLB