Sports Saturdays: Farewell Captain
September 27th, 2014 by Justin Thomas
Once in a generation, a player comes along and defines a great player and great leader for his or her sport, a player whom fans will remember and respect for years to come. For this generation, that player is Derek Jeter.
After 20 incredible seasons in pinstripes for the Yankees, the time has come for Jeter to bid a fond farewell to the fans of New York and the fans of baseball around the world, and boy did he do it in style!
In front of a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium, Jeter stepped up to the plate in a tie ball game in the bottom of the 9th with a runner on second and a chance to win the game for the Yanks.
The Captain delivered one more magical moment at Yankee Stadium, and slapped a first-pitch fastball into right field for a walk-off RBI, truly a storybook ending in pinstripes for Jeter.
The stadium erupted as fans roared for the emotional Jeter, Yankees players took the field to celebrate with him and hug their hero for the game and for so many more before that, and all Orioles players tipped their hats to Jeter as he and New York celebrated the fairytale win.
It was such a perfect ending that it really couldn’t have ended any other way. When asked about this perfect ending to his pinstripe career, Jeter said, “I wouldn’t have believed it myself.”
Jeter told the media after the game that the stoic shortstop was fighting back emotions the entire time, and even had to stop back in the clubhouse during the game for a little while to compose himself again.
Derek Jeter is a rare example of someone who does everything the right way, both on and off the field. No matter who people root for, everyone has an unmatched respect for Jeter and has a story to back up their respect, myself included.
When I was a young kid, probably about 7 or 8 years old, I attended my first ever Yankees game with my dad. I remember getting to the stadium extra early in the hopes of getting an autograph from Derek Jeter.
When the PR directors controlling the autograph line yelled for last call on autographs, I was still easily 20 people back or so. I was so sad and disappointed that I wasn’t going to get my Derek Jeter autograph.
Then an incredible thing happened. Jeter picked his head up to look through the line and with a smile on his face pointed directly at me and said, “bring the kid up here.” I was elated as the Captain signed my baseball for his last autograph before the game. Right then I knew the type of person Derek Jeter was; a good man, a good role model, and a good leader. The fact that he’s not a half-bad baseball player was a nice bonus.
Everyone that has had the slightest interaction with Jeter will share a similar story, a story of a man who loves the game and the people around him, a man who you can’t help but respect.
On behalf of all sports fans, let me just say farewell, Captain, and thank you.