Derek Jeter is baseball. Before the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, the Yankees’ captain announced this would be his last. This season marked Jeter’s twentieth and final season wearing Yankee pinstripes. With the Yankees missing the playoffs this season, and the regular season having ended Sunday, Sept. 28, the face of Major League Baseball has changed forever.
Jeter ended his career playing career in New York the only way he knew how – with an iconic moment. On Thursday, Sept. 25, No. 2 stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles in a tie ballgame, for what would be his final at bat in front of the home crowd at Yankee Stadium.
In classic Jeter fashion, he singled to right field on the first pitch of the at bat to score the runner from second base and seal a walk off victory for the Bronx Bombers. Jeter’s final game as the Yankees shortstop came against long time rival, the Boston Red Sox. It was a Hollywood ending to this Bronx Tale.
With Jeter leaving the world of Major League Baseball, the game of baseball will never be the same. Derek Jeter was the face of baseball for all the right reasons. He earned respect amongst all of his teammates and competitors. He played the game right, giving it his all every time he stepped on a baseball diamond. Mr. November will go down not only as an all-time Yankees great, but an all-time great in the history of MLB. Jeter’s departure leaves baseball without a clear-cut face for the general public to associate with the sport.
Not many players have earned the amount of respect from their peers the way Jeter has. This can be seen by the farewell tour the Yankee captain received throughout the 2014 campaign. During his final visit to every ballpark, the opposing team would show their respect by giving the departing Jeter a gift that related to the city they played in. This type of treatment was also given to Cal Ripken Jr. in 2001, Chipper Jones in 2012 and Mariano Rivera in 2013. Jeter has several traits in common with these men. All four men played their entire careers with one team, and all three men should be first ballot Hall of Famers. But most importantly, these men earned the respect of players, coaches and fans.
The respect he earned, the way he played the game on the field, how he treated the fans and how he acted off the field all account for Jeter being one of a kind. Derek Jeter is an icon of the generation. He was easily identified by baseball fans and Yankee fans alike. The iconic #2 will always be identified with his name. What is equally impressive is how he was recognized off the field as well. Yes he is synonymous with the Yankees and baseball, but the way he played the game made him known amongst those who knew little about baseball. Derek Jeter is one of the most popular role models of this generation. Little kids, myself included, looked up to him. He played the game hard and he played the game right. He would always lead by example, which earned him the right to be called the Yankee captain, something very few people in the history of baseball can say.
The game of baseball is losing an all time great. No one will ever wear the No. 2 for the Yankees ever again, as Jeter will be enshrined in both Cooperstown and Monument Park. When a father brings his child to Yankee Stadium, a man that’s not named Jeter will be at short. Young children will need to find a new player to look forward to watching and look up to.
My dad, a Red Sox fan, once brought me to a Yankees-Red Sox game in hopes to making me a Red Sox fan. I was immediately drawn to the way Jeter played the game. To my dad’s chagrin, Jeter had turned me into a Yankee fan for life, but he understood, knowing how great Jeter is.
Now there are no clear cut faces of baseball that embody all the terrific qualities that Jeter does. Players like Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw or Andrew McCutchen can likely step up to be the new face, but one thing is clear; there will never be another Derek Jeter.
Thank you Derek, you will be missed by many.
IMAGE TAKEN from newyorktimes.com