September 29, 2014
O Captain, My Captain…it had to end sooner or later.
An athlete’s career is finite. It never lasts forever; it’s like a book with twists and turns.
It has victories, defeats, accomplishments and losses. An athlete’s career is defined by the things he or she does on any stage. In this instance, no one in this generation has done it better than Derek Jeter.
The New York Yankees shortstop reached his last stop in Boston on Sunday, September 28. He walked to the plate to a standing ovation, a sign of respect from the Fenway crowd. Jeter lined out to short in his first at-bat, perhaps not returning later that day.
Then, Jeter returned in the third with a runner on third. He hit a bouncer to third and made it. The box scorer ruled it an RBI single.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi asked Jeter if he wanted to leave. Jeter obliged, and Girardi sent Brian McCann to pitch run for the Yankee captain. As Jeter hugged his teammates, the crowd gave him one more ovation before he went into the dugout.
And so it ended. Derek Jeter is no longer a major league baseball player.
It’s hard to think that Derek Jeter is retiring. But what else can be said about him?
We can go on about where we were when Jeter hit number 3000 off of David Price. We can remember how Mr. November kept the Yankees in the hunt. We can reminisce about the “flip play,” the “Jeter throw” and the dive into the stands.
It didn’t end with another trip to October, but it ended the only way he knew: playing to win.
Jeter was always about winning. He didn’t reach his ultimate goal this year, but he did send us off with one more victory.
Perhaps the best sendoff happened by accident. September 25 featured Yankees closer David Robertson failing to close the game against the Baltimore Orioles. The bottom of the ninth displayed another Jeter moment, the last one at Yankee Stadium.
With a man on second, Jeter knocked the first pitch he saw into right. The runner scored, making the game a 6-5 victory. As he celebrated with his current teammates, a few old faces emerged from the dugout.
Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Gerald Williams, Bernie Williams and Joe Torre all stood by the home dugout watching the action. Jeter embraced each of them and then went to the field one more time to soak it all in.
That’s one hell of a sendoff.
An athlete’s career is defined by his or her actions. However, those actions can make or break athletes. Those actions accrued over time can turn a player into a legend.
That is the story of Derek Jeter, which is intriguing when you think about it. An athlete’s story is a book, but the legend is ongoing. Even though an athlete’s career ends, the legend never dies.
That’s what we have here, ladies and gentlemen. We have a legend that we baseball fans will talk about for the rest of our lives. Yankee fans have had this happen before, but it’s through different generations.
In my great-grandmother’s generation, that man was Babe Ruth.
In my father’s generation, that was Mickey Mantle.
For my generation, it’s Derek Jeter.
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