With the New York Yankees on the precipice of falling short of the postseason, shortstop Derek Jeter will make his final MLB appearance on Sept. 28. Down the line, we will all forget how the weather was that day, who pitched and who hit the winning run, but we will not forget the last time we saw the Captain.
Over the past 20 years, Jeter has become the face of baseball. The Yankee captain has been a shining beacon of how to play the game right during the steroid era, and he will be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time.
Even those who do not watch baseball, such as Stern freshman Zoe Seward, recognize Jeter’s impact on the sport.
“I don’t follow sports at all but everyone knows who Derek Jeter is,” Seward said.
Drafted sixth overall in the 1992 Draft by the Yankees, Jeter was promoted to the majors in 1995. In his first full year in 1996, Jeter won the American League Rookie of the Year award and the Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. This was an auspicious start for someone who would lead the Yankees to five World Series Championships.
“He was always the favorite player at school,” CAS freshman Harvinder Bassi said. “Jeter was the consummate professional and someone to admire.”
Above all, what made Jeter such a great player was his consistency. Throughout his career, Jeter has maintained a .310 batting average. He is a five-time Gold Glove winner who immortalized the jump throw play. He would go on to receive 14 AL All-Star nominations and become the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits, finishing sixth on the all-time hits list.
The steroid era loomed large in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Great sluggers like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds had their reputations tarnished. But not Jeter. His name never came up, and most never feared that it would. Not for a man with this much integrity and love for the game.
That is what the game needed. A player who did not take steroids, did not constantly find himself in the newspapers for the wrong reasons and played the game right. That was Jeter — the captain of the Yankees and the captain of baseball.
It will certainly be a strange opening day next year when someone else is shortstop. The final member of the Core Four has finally hung up his spikes and a new era of baseball will begin. To amend a famous quote by Joe DiMaggio: I’d like to thank the good Lord for letting me watch Derek Jeter play.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 24 print edition. Email Kyle Luther at [email protected]