To some this week may feel like another ordinary week, to others this week shall mark the end of an era. Indeed the time has come; this week shall be the last week we ever watch Derek Sanderson Jeter play on a baseball diamond has an active player. From the minute the announcement was made back in February, the baseball world has been anticipating this week, some fans, including myself, have dreaded this week.
So the question is, after seven months of praise, tributes, and paid respects what else is there to be said about Derek Jeter that hasn’t been said already? He’s a role model, he’s an icon, he’s the face of baseball. All those remarks are true as the Yankee pinstripes are blue. So what is there left to say about the Yankee captain? Bryce Harper, would you care to place your input on Jeter?
“Jeter is somebody that, he’s not just the captain of the Yankees, he’s the captain of all of baseball.”
These comments were made by the Washington Nationals’ outfielder just a few weeks ago. Harper is 21 years old, born in October of 1992, coincidentally the same year the New York Yankees drafted Jeter. Around the time Harper learned to walk, talk, and read, Jeter learned to be a major league shortstop, a winner, but above all else a professional. By the time Harper entered kindergarten, Jeter had won his first of five World Series Championships. In the summer before Harper started seventh grade, Jeter’s legacy enhanced upon diving into the stands in an early July baseball game against the rival Boston Red Sox. In 2012, Harper’s rookie year, he made his first all-star team representing the National League, while Jeter was representing the American League for the 13th time of his career. In 2014, Harper and the Nationals look to bring home a World Series. If successful, Harper will win his first World Series Ring at 22-years-old, the same age Derek Jeter was in 1996 when he won his first ring.
So when Harper, who grew up not only a Yankee fan but a Jeter fan, claims that number two is the “captain of all of baseball” it can be deciphered as a testament to Jeter’s impact on the generation that grew up watching him. Just like Michael Jordan in basketball, Jeter can be defined as “your favorite player’s favorite player.” But his impact, as noted so many times, goes beyond his achievements and successes on the baseball diamond. It’s the manner in which Jeter has gone about his life off the field, keeping his name out of the tabloids despite becoming a superstar in baseball’s most scandalous era and a world that obsesses over its celebrities.
Although he is one of the most stand-out performers in all of baseball, Jeter ironically prefers the spotlight to be on his team before himself, speaking to his humility. This humility and humble nature is something Jeter has retained this year despite tributes being held for Derek everywhere he’s gone. From gifts to checks to standing ovations Jeter’s legacy has been celebrated and embraced like no one else has ever been, not even his former teammate, Mariano Rivera’s farewell tour from last year can compare to the magnitude of Jeter’s. Yet, the Jeter farewell tour comes to an end this week, fittingly the last stop on the trip is in Boston against the rival Red Sox. The chances of us seeing another player like Jeter are slim to none.
Jeter is simply a once in a lifetime player. Sure there’s the chances that guys like Mike Trout or David Wright may succeed Jeter as the face of baseball, but let’s face facts here; there won’t be another player who will endorse the sport of baseball in the manner Jeter has. Not for a long time at least. There is only one Derek Jeter, so here’s to the Captain for being the ultimate professional, having a wonderful career, providing us with moments that will live on in baseball, sports, and American history, but most of all for simply being himself.
I know Jeter would remind me that he’s still got a couple of games left to play. “Oh Captain, my Captain!” Thank you for not only being my favorite player, my role model, my hero, but most of all, for being the captain of all of baseball.