Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Oh Captain my Captain. Well, not exactly my Captain, but Derek Jeter has been a class act in baseball since his arrival in 1995. The Captain of the New York Yankees has had a tremendous career, there is no arguing that point. When Jeter does play his last game this season, whether it’s in September or October, he will be remembered as one of the greats the game has ever seen.
Like most cities that Derek Jeter visits, we will be giving him a farewell that has ties to both the player and our city.
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I have two very distinct memories that involve the Captain. The first is obvious. In 2001, Eric Byrnes was not asked to pinch run, and Jeremy Giambi didn’t slide (he was still safe, but that’s a whole different argument). Derek Jeter took a broken play and turned it into a momentum shift for the entire series. A 16-year old version of myself sat in the stands in disbelief of both the call, and the play. If Jeter hadn’t made that flip, Oakland’s ALDS history could be very different.
The second memory wasn’t even at a Yankee game. In 2003, the A’s faced the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. Game 1 was a pitcher’s duel between Tim Hudson and Pedro Martinez, both at the top of their games. How does Jeter fit in to all of this? At that moment in time, there is nobody that hated Derek Jeter more than both Sox and A’s fans.
Who should pop up on the Jumbotron but the Captain himself. He was doing an ad to keep kids off drugs, or some equally noble cause. What did the sell out crowd do? We booed the hell out of his visage. Our two teams were in a tightly contested game (later won on a walk-off bunt by Ramon Hernandez) and the one person that could bring us all together for a few moments was Derek Jeter. This is one of my favorite baseball moments because of its absurdity.
Derek Jeter has been a model citizen, keeping his personal life out of the media, and playing the game hard every day. Out of the shortstop grouping of Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada, only one is still playing. That one is #2 in your programs, but #1 in many hearts.