It is finally over. The career of the icon and all-time great Derek Jeter has come to an end. Unfortunately, just like Mariano Rivera in 2014, Jeter’s career ends in September and not October.
Yes, the “Jeter Retirement Saga” of this past season got a little old at points (just like Rivera’s did last year and Chipper Jones’ did when he retired). However, in true Jeter fashion, he gave us a final week to always remember.
Jeter entered the last couple weeks of his career in a 0-28 slump but broke out of it with HRs, near-HRs, extra-base hits and several singles. All of which culminated in his final hit at Yankees Stadium – a walk-off single to right field (of course) in the bottom of the 9th, and his final hit ever as RBI-single in Fenway Park (listening to the Fenway Faithful chant his name was eerie but really cool).
As a lifelong Yankees fan, Jeter will always hold a special place in my memory. As with generations past, each one has their special player – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter – these are players for the last 90+ years that Yankees fans call their own and which is their favorite depends upon when they started watching the Yankees.
For me, Don Mattingly will always be my all-time favorite, because even though I’ve been a Yankees fan since birth, it wasn’t until the early 80s that I truly started following baseball and when I did, there was Don Mattingly standing at first base.
For this generation (people who became fans in the 1990s), Derek Jeter was that player. Jeter was an immediate superstar and winner, and the Yankees were brought back to World Series prominence. Over the last 20 years, there are all the plays and special moments – the Flip, the Maier HR, the 5-5 with a HR for his 3,000th hit, all the Yankees milestones, and of course this past week to name just a few; every Jeter fan would rank his greatest moments differently.
Derek Jeter is an all-time great shortstop and MLB player. His greatness will always be debated due to his perceived weakness in the field. His standing among all-time Yankees greats will always be debated as well. There are so many questions – is he the best Yankee ever, is he in the top-5, was Rivera more important to the late-90s Yankees?
No matter how those debates turn out, there is no debating what Derek Jeter has meant to not only the New York Yankees, Major League Baseball, and the city of New York (and the Bronx) but also to the legions of fans all over the world – and not just Yankees fans.
Thank you Captain for the tremendous ride you brought us on for the last 20 years! You brought hope and winning back to a franchise that desperately needed it!