Last updated on November 21st, 2014 at 01:28 pm
One of the greatest hitters in baseball history, a leader and a beloved figure in the most storied franchise in sports, Derek Jeter played his final games for the New York Yankees ending a 20-year career in pinstripes.
From the time he was five years old, all Derek Jeter wanted to be when he grew up was the shortstop for the Yankees, and 2,674 times he did just that. But Derek Jeter’s impact goes far beyond numbers, though those are impressive enough. As the longest tenured captain in Yankees history, Jeter led by example thriving within the spotlight on the field, while shying away from it off.
Derek Jeter was an integral member of five World Championship teams, the last in 2009. He was a 14-time all-star, five-time Gold Glove winner, all-star and World Series MVP, and collected 3,465 hits good for sixth all-time. He won the Roberto Clemente Award as baseball’s Man of the Year in 2009 for off-field endeavors, and the Lou Gehrig Award in 2010.
Some enlightening quotes from Derek Jeter, as a look inside the man, include:
“Your image isn’t your character. Your character is what you are as a person.”
“There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do—and I believe that.”
“Surround yourself with good people, people who are going to be honest with you and look out for your best interests.”
“Obviously, you’re known for what you do. But you still want to be known as a good person. You’re a person a lot longer before and after you’re a professional athlete.”
“I’m very, very competitive. If my grandmother asks to race me down the street, I’m going to try to beat her. And I’ll probably enjoy it!”
There was much fanfare regarding his last home game. As usual he did not disappoint. Facing the division champion Orioles, Jeter lined a double high off the left-field wall in the 1st inning. In the 7th, he hustled out a ground ball leading to an error, scoring two runs. But in the 9th, after the Orioles had tied it with three in the top of the inning, Jeter lined the first pitch he saw from reliever Evan Meek for a signature single to right scoring former Vanderbilt player Antoan Richardson with the winning run. It was his first walk-off hit since 2007 and it was the storybook finish we all hoped for in the 6-5 win.
Sunday, in his final game overall, rival fans at Boston’s Fenway Park treated Jeter like royalty with a fitting pregame ceremony. In his final at-bat, he hustled out an infield hit, driving in the 1,311th run of his career and finishing his career with a .310 batting average. At that point, he exited the game for the final time.
Derek Jeter recently opened a publishing company. He aspires to owning his own baseball franchise at some point. He will undoubtedly be offered lucrative contracts to perform speaking engagements and leadership seminars. Whichever way he goes, he is sure to lead and not follow. The joy and inspiration he has given millions for 20 years can never be quantified, no more than numbers can quantify his place in baseball history.
Some questioned the degree of exultation surrounding his farewell season, but to the legions of fans and admirers, no amount can ever be enough to adequately repay all he gave to all of us. Thank you Captain, thank you for everything.