Yankee Captain Retires in Historic Fashion


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Chris Colella, Senior Sports Writer

“Well the script is there, the last page is in Derek’s hands,” says Yankees’ broadcaster Michael Kay as Derek Jeter steps into the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium for the last time. It’s Thursday September 25th, 2014, and Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter was playing in his final home game of his career at Yankee Stadium.  In a tie game against the Orioles with one out, runner on second base, it was time for Jeter’s last hoorah. As baseball season is right around the corner, we look back on the Captain’s historic career.

Before that final night, almost twenty years ago Derek Jeter made his major league debut as a Yankee on May 29th, 1995. According to online sources, In the 1992 Major League Baseball draft, the Houston Astros had the first overall pick, and with much dispute, passed up the opportunity to draft the young 17 year old. When the sixth pick with the New York Yankees came around, Jeter was still available. New York ultimately drafted him, and he would sign for an $800,000 contract. When Yankee infielder Pat Kelly went down with an injury, Jeter was then called up to fill in at the shortstop position. He was assigned the jersey number two, which was one of only two single-digit jerseys available at the time. The rest of the 1995 season, Jeter was sent up and down between the minors and major leagues. After a strong offseason and Spring Training, he would be awarded the starting shortstop position on Opening Day of 1996. This was just the beginning of one of the most historic careers in baseball history.

Throughout  Jeter’s memorable career, he accumulated many achievements and accolades. Jeter was Rookie of the Year award winner in 1996, a 5-time Silver Slugger Award winner, a 5-time Gold Glove award winner, 5-time New York Yankee Player of the Year winner, a 14-time All-Star, passing Lou Gehrig’s record, an all-time Yankee hit leader with 2,272, and lastly acquiring over 3,000 hits in his major league career! He was also endorsed by many companies, the most popular ones being Nike, Gatorade, Gillette, XM Satellite Radio, and Jordan. But it’s not the money or endorsements Jeter was playing for. No matter what the game or year, he played with the passion as a New York Yankee, and the heart of a little kid. All Derek wanted to do was play baseball, and have fun doing it; and he surely had no problem displaying that passion through the years one bit.

Fans saw him dive head-first into the stands to catch a fly ball, risking the chance of getting bruised and bloodied up.  We saw him hit that walk-off homerun in an early morning of November to tie the World Series at two games apiece, which earned him the nickname “Mr. November”. We witnessed his ball hit in the hole, backhand, jump-throw to first base to get the out. We witnessed Jeter hit a huge homerun for his historic 3,000th hit in Yankee Stadium. Now, in September of ’14, it was time to witness one last Jeter moment in his Major League career. Chants of “Derek Jeter” poured down from the stands. On the first pitch of the at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jeter hit a single into right field, allowing his teammate Richardson to score from second. It was game over, and the Yankees had won in Jeter fashion. Some say it’s a storybook ending, others say it’s fantasy become reality. But in reality, it’s just plain beautiful. How can’t you be romantic about baseball?

Derek Jeter was a classy, impassioned, hall-of-fame player, now retired from the beautiful game of baseball. He will be remembered as nothing other than “the best” some may say. But Jeter doesn’t care for all the titles and awards he’s won. Those are inanimate objects to him. What mattered to him the most is presented in these words Jeter spoke to his fans not too long before his last game: “In my opinion, I’ve had the greatest job in the world. I got a chance to be the shortstop of the New York Yankees, and there’s only one of those.”  Derek Jeter will be truly missed by sports fans everywhere. Farewell Captain, and thanks for being a strong role model to those of us playing and/or loving baseball everywhere.