NEW YORK (AP) — Derek Jeter held a microphone and spoke without notes to the crowd that filled sold-out Yankee Stadium. His No. 2, the last of the single digit pinstripes, had been retired and a plaque in his honor dedicated that will be placed in Monument Park alongside tributes to Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and the rest of the team’s greats.
“There isn’t a person or player I would trade places with that’s playing now or ever,” he told the fans.
— Derek Jeter’s Number Retired in a Ceremony at Yankee Stadium, Time/AP (May 15, 2017).
Seeing photos of Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium reminded me of a time many, many years ago. Yes, it was a different Yankee Stadium than where I watched him play. Yes, he is a different man now than he was then. Regardless, he is a modern day legend, who deserves to be feted. He donned No. 2 for 20 seasons, during which he excelled at what mattered: hitting, baserunning, fielding, and leading. The result? Five World Series championships.
As I read about Derek Jeter’s accomplishments, I couldn’t get my late Aunt Joan’s voice out of my head. “Oh, Kim, he’s so much more than a fabulous shortstop, he’s a leader–on an off the field. He teammates respect him. And his charitable organization Turn 2 speaks volumes of his character.” My Aunt, who had an opinion on anything and everything she knew–and she knew a lot about a lot–didn’t let it go at that. “I think you and Derek would be a power couple,” she proudly opined. “He hasn’t found anyone, really,” she continued. Her hopes were fueled by me casually mentioning that I had run into him at a bar–one which, it would turn out, we both frequented. But that was years ago.
My Aunt was a bright woman. She knew it was against all odds for Derek Jeter and her niece to date, just like she knew that she would not see another Derek Jeter in her lifetime.