Derek Jeter calls it a career after 20 big league seasons as the shortstop of the New York Yankees
When you think of a great athlete, you think of someone who excels in a particular sporting activity, someone with a talent not many can match, and someone that grabs the eyes of the world. When you think of Derek Jeter, you think of a leader, a captain, and an inspiration to all; an athlete who has represented the greatest and most historic baseball franchise in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB), and excelled at a level that nobody has seen for decades. It’s been 20 MLB seasons with the New York Yankees, 2,747 games played, 11,195 at bats, 3,465 hits, 200 career playoff hits, 260 home runs, and a career .309 batting average, but on Sunday afternoon the captain of the Yankees, and arguably the greatest player in their franchises 111 year history, called it a career.
Derek Jeter is from Pequannock, New Jersey which is approximately 35 minutes from New York, NY. He was picked in the first round 6th overall of the 1992 amateur draft, by the team he grew up dreaming every day to be a apart of, the New York Yankees. He made his Yankee debut at the age of 20 on May 29, 1995. Since then, he has won five World Series Championships, (including one World Series MVP award in 2000), he was a 14-time MLB All Star, five-time Gold Glove Award Winner, five-time Silver Slugger Award Winner, two-time Hank Aaron Award Winner, two-time Lou Gehrig Award Winner, 2009 Sports Illustrated sportsman of the year, 1996 American League Rookie of the Year, and 2009 Roberto Clemente Award Winner.
On Sept 25, Jeter played his final game at shortstop, and his last game in pin-stripes in front of his home fans in the Bronx, NY. He had a game that only someone as special, determined, talented, and as heroic could have. In Jeter’s first at-bat already down 2-0 in the 1st inning, he drilled an rbi double off the wall in left-center to cut the Baltimore Orioles lead in half to 2-1. Then in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and score even at two, Jeter grounded into a fielder’s choice, reaching first base, but most importantly, he had driven in the winning run, as the Yankees led 4-2. Everything was set, he made some nice plays at shortstop, he had two rbi’s, and over 48,000 fans were on their feet chanting “Thank You Derek,” but that wasn’t enough for the five-time world series champion. With the Yankees winning 5-2 in the ninth inning and a runner on first base for the Orioles, Yankees closer David Robertson gave up back-to-back home runs, as the Orioles tied the game up at five. That gave Jeter one more opportunity to bat in the bottom of the ninth, for the Yankee faithful and baseball fans around the world. After a leadoff hit that was then followed by a sacrifice bunt to advance the winning runner Antoan Richardson to second, the stage was set for a dramatic finish. Jeter came through in the clutch, as he has for 20 straight years. A walk off base hit to score the winning run! As Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay said “Derek Jeter, where fantasy becomes reality.” Jeter then did one final trot around the field that he has called home for half his life, blinking to hold tears back with his head spinning, trying to digest what just happened. It was a night that simply no one could have scripted better. Jeter finished his career on Sunday with an rbi single at Fenway Park in Boston, MA in his final career MLB at bat.
There is no doubt that with all of Jeter’s credentials, he will be a first ballot hall of famer, but some individuals believe Jeter might be the first ever player to get 100 percent of the vote on his way into Cooperstown. New York Mets legend Tom Seaver currently holds the highest voting percentage in hall of fame history at 98.84 (425 of 430) when he was elected to the hall in 1992. Jeter who will enter the hall of fame in his first eligible opportunity five years from now in 2020, will go in the hall with a couple other baseball legends Vladimir Guerrero, and Edgar Martinez.
Turn 2 foundation
In 1996, just after Derek Jeter began his career with the Yankees, he established a charitable foundation to help children and teenagers avoid drug and alcohol addiction, and also to reward those who show high academic achievement and adopt healthier lifestyles. The foundation’s name is a baseball reference to a double play that Jeter made a routine in his career, and Jeter’s uniform number two. It exemplifies the goal of giving youth a place to “turn to,” besides drugs and alcohol. The Turn 2 Foundation has raised over $17 million in grants to programs within the New York City area, since it began 18 years ago.
Out of respect for Jeter’s impeccable career the entire baseball world payed tribute to Derek this year – by offering him a farewell tour. That meant, every time Jeter was playing his last ever game in an opposing teams city, he would receive a gift. It was a token of respect given to him by opposing teams for all his great years of service, competition, and entertainment that he has provided to the baseball world. Usually a brief 15-minute presentation would take place prior to the start of the game, where some of Jeter’s career highlights would be shown on a video board, before Derek received a gift that usually is something close to the culture of the opposing city in which Derek was in. For example, the Toronto Blue Jays provided a $10,000 donation to Jeter’s charity along with a trip for two to Banff, Alberta.
In Jeter’s career he has earned a total of $265,159,364 throughout his 20 year career with the Yankees. On top of this, he has also had the prestiged sponsorship endorsements including; Nike, Gatorade, Fleet Bank, Ford, Visa, Discover Card, Florsheim, Gillette, Skippy and XM Satellite Radio.
Is he the best shortstop of all time?
Taking a look at some of the incredible numbers above from Jeter’s career, it’s hard to imagine there has ever been another shortstop as talented. However, one name certainly comes to mind and that’s Mr. Cal Ripkin Jr. – the ironman has one record that will stand out in professional sports forever, and may never ever be beat. He played in 2,632 consecutive baseball games over the course of 17 years. He also had more home runs (431) and rbi’s (1,695) then Jeter, and was simply a better defensive shortstop. However, what Jeter has done both on the field, but more importantly off the field, to inspire individuals of all ages, is something that people really take to heart and are thankful for. Jeter played for the most historic franchise that baseball will ever have and even though he may not be the best shortstop of all time, he is certainly more appreciated then Ripkin Jr., and will be a name that will never be forgotten in baseball for generations to come.
Derek Jeter is a man of respect, leadership and an incredible talent that will always be remembered in the game of baseball. He’s a class act, and anyone who was fortunate enough to see him play, and to watch the way he conducts himself on a day to day basis, knows how special of a person he is, and how lucky the baseball world is to have had him be apart of it for the last 20 years.