Derek Jeter - A Fitting Farewell

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Thursday September 25, 2014

They couldn't have scripted a better ending to Derek Jeter's storybook career. From the weather to the lucky breaks both the Yankees and Jeter had, one had to wonder, "Was this guided by spirit?". As a rain soaked day became a picture perfect autumn night, nothing could stop the energies of fans and players in the stadium and at home. My friend Gabe posted on my Facebook wall, "The Yankee's ghosts were in the stadium last night. I was telling people all night the ghosts are here."

New York Yankee fans like myself, my children, and then my grandchildren, who have followed Jeter's 23 year career, will never forget the moment. My daughter Nikki emailed, "It was the only way the game and his career could have ended." My daughter Zsia emailed, "It was a classic moment in baseball history!"

It was the bottom of the 9th - the game between the NY Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles tied 5-5 - as Jeter stepped up to the plate. In one swing of the bat, he slapped his trademark single to right field. Antoan Richardson came scurrying toward home, and there was Jeter jumping up and down as he rounded first base. His teammates sprinted onto the field, the sellout crowd of 48,613 danced in the aisles, and Jeter was mobbed, giving him a hero's send-off. Yankee Stadium, which had overflowed with love for Jeter all night, erupted in the kinds of cheers reserved for the greats of Yankees history. It was an ending so perfect that even Jeter later admitted, "I wouldn't have believed it myself."

Jeter, known for his stoicism during his career, says he broke down several times during the game, retreating to the bathroom to cry, with his eyes tearing up in the ninth inning on the field. It all seemed surreal to him, but he was the hero, whether the Orioles let him win or not as they made several errors that cost them the game ... or not.

The city will celebrate today in light of a terrorist threat that I don't see happening.

Memories for us old timers ... When Jeter walked toward the dugout, there were his famous teammates from the glory days, with Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada hugging him, along with Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre. My childhood in Coney Island takes me to the NY Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, visiting Yankee Stadium and Ebbets Field with my dad, collecting baseball cards, and watching the games with friends on black and white TV. What a difference 65 years of technology makes.

What will he do next? There are many options, publishing for one. I heard him tell one sports announcer that he would love to settle down and have a family. He felt the life of an athlete was not conducive to marriage and family as you miss too much. He certainly has dated his share of stunning women including Mariah Carey, Jordana Brewster, Jessica Biel, Minka Kelly, and currently model Hannah Davis.

Sunday September 28 ... The final game

Jeter makes Yanks and Red Sox one   ESPN - September 29, 2014
As grand exits go, this was not in the same ballpark with Thursday night in the Bronx. In the middle of a football Sunday, Derek Jeter was playing the Pro Bowl at Fenway Park three days after he was named Super Bowl MVP. That's how it felt, anyway. For the first time in his life, Jeter didn't want to spend a couple of sunshiny days playing baseball games.

In Enemy Territory, a Farewell Comes With a Warm Embrace   New York Times - September 29, 2014
Jeter took a strike and a ball, smacked a ball foul and then beat a 93-mile-an-hour fastball off the plate. The ball hung in the air for three seconds. The third baseman leapt for it and tipped it with his bare hand. The ball fell to the Fenway Park grass as Jeter raced through first base, with no throw. This was his 3,465th and final hit, a figure surpassed by only five others in history.