By: John Franklin
Respect. A two syllable word defined as a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Derek Jeter is the embodiment of that definition. In a 20 year span, Jeter amassed 3,465 hits, 14 All Star appearances, 5 Gold Glove Awards, 5 Silver Slugger Awards, and one World Series Most Valuable Player award. To talk about Jeter’s Hall of Fame caliber stats is a simple task in itself, but writing about Jeter from a fan’s perspective is even easier.
I was born and raised a Yankee fan. In all my 17 years on this earth, many things have changed, but one thing always remained the same. Every time I would watch a Yankee game, good old number two would take the field at short stop.
He provided us, the fans, with so many memories of him making his acrobatic plays in the field and getting his patented inside-out hits to right field. We were lucky enough to witness greatness. We saw a 20 year Hall of Fame career from Jeter, and the most we can do is thank him for it. We can thank him for the memories that we will one day tell our children and our grandchildren about. For me, I will thank him for making me love America’s game, and for helping me see what a hero like Derek Jeter means to me when I see his final at-bat.
It’s a memory now that will last a lifetime for me. I was sitting on a small couch in my girlfriend’s house watching as the playoff bound Orioles shelled David Robertson in the 9th inning to tie the game up 5-5; setting the table for Derek Jeter to win it the only way Derek Jeter knows how to win it–in dramatic fashion. Jeter swung at the first pitch lining it into right field like Jeter is so accustomed to doing. I jumped out of my seat knowing that Antoan Richardson was just ninety feet from delivering history.
As Richardson crossed home and the team mobbed Jeter at second, tears swelled in my eyes. I saw all my heroes of the core four (Andy Petite, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada) grey in the hair and crying. In that moment where Derek Jeter had delivered his final hit in pinstripes, I couldn’t help but break down crying. In that game winning hit, my childhood came to an end. A childhood that would have been nothing without the heroics of Derek Jeter.
I found myself in tears on my car ride home. Tears of both joy and sadness. To see your hero leave the game is heartbreaking, but to see your hero go out on top as all heroes should, that’s a dream come true. A true storybook ending for a man who deserved it. As Jeter always wanted people to say about him, he played the game right, and he left it all on the field. After 20 years, it’s time for him to go.
In closing, I say farewell to the captain. We the fans thank you for all you did for us. You will forever have our respect. We won with you, and we lost with you. We felt your heart break, and we felt your biggest triumph. But most of all, we loved you Derek. Thank you for all the memories. Thank you for letting us love the game. Thank you for being our captain.