Yes, it’s the end of the Derek Jeter era, but it wouldn’t be labeled an era unless he was a continuing, contributing player for the New York Yankees. I believe that Derek Jeter has been a faithful and consistent player for the Yankees for the past 19 seasons, and has been continuing his talents and efforts as a player throughout this 2014 season.
His retirement marks the end of any available single digit jersey for the Yankee franchise. When he was assigned the jersey number two in 1995, it was one of two single digits left for a Yankee and is now the last one to be honored, the others have all since been retired. Being assigned this number, with knowing that other talented Yankee players before him, such as Mickey Mantle (#7), Babe Ruth (#3) and Joe DiMaggio (#5), wore a single digit, was almost foreshadowing that Jeter would have a great career with this team.
In 2001, George Steinbrenner, who was at the time the principal owner and managing partner of the Yankees, released a statement about Jeter saying:
“Derek Jeter embodies everything the Yankees are about. There are some things that cannot be defined by batting average, home runs and runs batted in. They’re important, but they cannot totally define a player’s worth to a team. And you’d be making a mistake if you think they do. Equally important are an athlete’s heart and desire. Derek exemplifies those qualities as well as any player.”
I believe that Jeter has lived up to the expectations that have surrounded him for the past 19+ years. In 2011, he became the first Yankee and 28th overall player in the MLB to reach 3,000 career hits. His last game playing at Wrigley Field, on Wednesday May 21, Jeter notched his 3,356th hit in the sixth inning versus the Cubs. Friday’s game versus the White Sox was his 2,583rd game as a shortstop putting him in second for most games played at that position.
On top of the talent, he has been a mature player and face for the Yankees’ organization, conducting good sportsmanship throughout his time. In his last game at Wrigley Field, he received a standing ovation from fans, for which he gave a quick wave, but no curtain call in the eighth inning.
“No, you can’t,” Jeter said about leaving the dugout for a curtain call. “The first time, we’re losing, 2-0, in the eighth inning. And then it was tied. So as much as I’d like to, you can’t do that.”
Although this season has been rough, with losses, injuries and suspensions to key players such as Michael Pineda and Alex Rodriguez, you can be sure the Yankees are looking for their next Jeter in a sea full of prospects. And even though it’s his last season, I believe that despite the difficulties the team may be facing this season, Jeter has continued to contribute his efforts as if he were to be playing for another 10 seasons, which has led me to believe that he has been the best player for the Yankees so far this season.
“I want to soak in every moment of every day this year, so I can remember it for the rest of my life. And most importantly, I want to help the Yankees reach our goal of winning another championship,” said Jeter in his statement of retirement in February.
Despite being his last season, his continuing passion for the Yankees and the sport are still evident. Fans will be wearing his number 2 for generations to come, saluting and admiring the one and only Derek Jeter.