The playing career of Derek Jeter will soon be at an end. The days are dwindling down to a final few. Tuesday night’s game was the first of the final half-dozen of the 2014 season.
Two hours before the game began, Jeter was with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in the Press Conference Room at Yankee Stadium, where Jeter was the recipient of another deserved honor. Selig was there to present Jeter with the 15th Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award.
Selig’s tenure in his current position began two years before Jeter rose to the majors. Selig spoke of the Yankee captain with the highest accolades when presenting the award, “I think I’ve looked forward to this more than anything I can remember in 22-23 years. That’s how I feel about him. Boy, was I lucky to have him. I cannot tell you how much Derek Jeter has meant to this sport and to me personally. He’s remarkable in every way.”
Selig also, on behalf of MLB, presented $222,222.22 to Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation and said, “His Turn 2 Foundation has impacted the courses of many young lives. This is why I say baseball is a social institution because of people like this and the things they do.”
Selig was not the only person in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday that expressed admiration of Jeter. During the final week of games at Yankee Stadium, the gates are being opened earlier than usual, so the large contingent of attendees can take advantage of the opportunity of watching Jeter and his teammates taking extra swings at the baseball during batting practice.
After the Yankees take the field in the first inning of every home game, the fans in the bleachers call the roll of those on the field. On Tuesday, when Jeter’s name was called the voices of those sitting in the bleachers were joined by those throughout the ballpark in chanting Jeter’s name.
Jeter commented on the fans reaction to him, “The fans are awesome. Of course, I can hear them.” But regardless of the circumstances of the game, the pennant race or his career, “My approach doesn’t change.”
In his first at bat, the Yankee shortstop skied to right.
He ended the third frame with a deep fly to center.
The Yankee fifth ended when Jeter was called out on strikes. He remained near the plate as home plate umpire D. J. Reyburn quietly spoke to him. Jeter did not seem pleased as he left his bat, batting gloves and helmet near the plate to be retrieved by the batboy.
With two out in the seventh, Jeter beat out an infield grounder for his first hit of the game. The hit extended his consecutive game hitting streak to seven. He scored as Brian McCann followed with his 23rd home run of the season.
The pressure was squarely on Jeter in the bottom of the ninth. With the score 5-4 in favor of Baltimore, Jeter was at the plate with Brett Gardner on first and two out. As the crowd stood, cheered and chanted his name, Jeter struck out on three pitches to conclude the contest.
Most believed Jeter would, as he so often does, come through for his team. Yankee manager Joe Girardi voiced those thoughts, “You’re thinking he’s going to hit a home run, but it didn’t happen. You have a good feeling when he’s up.”
Jeter spoke on the same play but perhaps with greater realism, “You always have to have confidence [but] sometimes guys are better. He [closer Zach Britton] threw hard sliders.”