Derek Jeter, the last of the “Core Four”, (Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter) is officially putting down his mitt for good after the end of the 2014 baseball season. While the announcement in February did not come as a complete surprise, it was still pretty jarring for not only Yankee fans, but for many baseball fans around the world.
Jeter, the shortstop from Kalamazoo, Michigan, is easily one of the best Yankees to have ever played the game of baseball, with unbelievable stats – a career batting average of .311, 3,413 career hits, 258 career home runs, and 8,089 outs made, to name a few. He is also a 14-time All-Star, a 5-time Gold Glove Award winner, a recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, an All-Star Game MVP as well as a World Series MVP and recipient of the ESPY Awards Best MLB Player. The 1996 American League Rookie of the Year quickly won the hearts of Yankee fans everywhere after his debut in 1995. He got his first two Major League hits the day after his debut and has been racking them up since. On the field, Jeter has been, and still is, an asset to his team.
Off the field, Derek Jeter is an asset to teens struggling with the ever-present threat of alcohol and drugs. He founded the Turn 2 Foundation in 1996 with the idea to encourage young men and women to “turn to” a healthy lifestyle and to “turn away” from alcohol and drugs. Since it’s establishment the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded over $16 million in grants to youth programs in West Michigan, New York City and the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
Derek Jeter is a prime example of why baseball is so much more than just a sport to watch on your day off. He is the type of player that a baseball fan loves to watch.
Whether he is diving into the stands head first,
making an iconic flip, or breaking records,
he has always played the sport with class that has made most, if not all, baseball fans truly respect him. The hash tag “RE2PECT” has been trending and going around for a while now, and rightfully so. Never one to run his mouth or cause a scene, Derek Jeter has always been a humble player.
He is a role model for young girls and boys everywhere, not only because of his class and respect for the game, but because of his determination to succeed. Jeter has spent his life playing baseball, working towards where he is today. In 1992 he received Gatorade’s High School Athlete of The Year Award, USA Today’s High School Player of The Year Award, the Kalamazoo Area B’nai B’rith Award for Scholar Athlete and the 1992 High School Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. In an interview with MLB.com, Derek Jeter said, “When I was younger I was always taught not to make excuses.” He has clearly carried this lesson with him throughout his life as he has always strived to win and to be the best player that he could possibly be. He grew up watching the New York Yankees and worked hard to make his dreams of becoming the Yankee’s shortstop come true.
For millions of baseball fans, Derek Jeter’s retirement signals the end of an era. For me, it signals the end of my childhood. It has been an honor and a blessing to watch Derek Jeter throughout his career. He has helped turn baseball into something meaningful for me, something more than just a bat and a ball. He has proved to many that baseball is more than just a sport. It has the power to bring people together, the power to change lives, the power to make people feel passion that they have never felt before. Derek Jeter deserves all of the “re2pect” that he has been given throughout his career, and I know that his legacy will never be forgotten.
But Jeter’s final season playing for the Yankees isn’t over yet. As Yogi Berra would say “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
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Capozzi, Brian. “Derek Jeter’s ‘The Dive’ Happened 10 Years Ago Today.” BronxPinstripescom. http://bronxpinstripes.com/nyy/derek-jeters-the-dive-happened-10-years-ago-today/ (accessed July 25, 2014).
Wikimedia Foundation. “Derek Jeter.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Jeter (accessed July 25, 2014).
“Derek Jeter Statistics and History | Baseball-Reference.com.” Baseball-Reference.com. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/jeterde01.shtml (accessed July 23, 2014).
“DerekJeter.com – Bio.” Major League Baseball. http://mlb.mlb.com/players/jeter_derek/about/bio.jsp (accessed July 25, 2014).
Noto, David. “6 of the Most Memorable Derek Jeter Moments.” Wall St. Cheat Sheet. http://wallstcheatsheet.com/sports/6-of-the-most-memorable-derek-jeter-moments.html/?a=viewall (accessed July 25, 2014).
Image Credit: Allison, Keith. “Derek Jeter.” Flickr: Creative Commons. Flickr, n.d. Web. 6 August 2014. <https://flic.kr/p/6gKgHc>.