Tribute: Derek Jeter If You Ever Comeback You Should Be Commissioner of Baseball
[Open Letter To Jeter]
So, Derek Jeter, after 20 years of faithful Short Stop “service” as a New York Yankee you are leaving us.
Do you realize that you are leaving such a gap that you will be hard to replace, not only at short stop, but as a great fan favorite athlete and a role model for our youth on a Global level?
Reading and hearing about your retirement which was and still is world-wide news and also a shock, I began to think about the first time I saw you in a New York Yankees pin-stripe uniform; you were super young looking, thin and somewhat nervous. That was to be expected after all you'd made the “big leagues”, and with America’s winningest baseball franchise with a great history. Of course my first reaction when you announced your retirement was, and, I suppose everyone else’s, “no, Derek don’t do it, don’t leave us, you can’t do this to us.”
During that week of your announcement I began to feel that your mind was made up after a long personal assessment, and of course consulting with Mom Dorothy and Dad Sanderson, and your sister Sharlee.
Most convincingly at least to me was your great personal letter that you wrote to us your fans throughout these past 20 years. Most assuredly we will always belong to your fans no matter where you go or do after 2014.
Most touching was the part where you stated, “I could not be more sure, I know it in my heart, that the 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball. Now it is time for the next chapter. I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges.” Heartbreaking, but we must respect it, and support your new directions.
Reading that letter several times perhaps reminded me of the great upbringing you received from your parents, Dorothy and Sanderson who met while serving in the United States Army in Germany, who made you agree to and sign those “behavior” contracts as a youth never allowing you to use the words “I can’t”.
In hind sight, I thought that maybe I should’ve utilized that demand for my four children, but, they came out alright. They graduated from college, are upstanding citizens like you; and, I am also a two-time proud Grandfather, hopefully expecting more grandchildren.
After you were born in in Pequannock, New Jersey, June 26, 1974, and your parents moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, when you were only four, you became a die-hard New York Yankees fan in your own words because you spent the summers during school breaks back in New Jersey with your Grandparents who took you to see many Yankees games.
Perhaps your love for the Yankees grew even more when you dreamed of becoming a Yankee and, especially idolizing Dave Winfield.
While in Kalamazoo Central High School, Derek, you showed promises of being of good baseball player. Some people even called you a “Natural”-winning several National Sports Awards such as The Gatorade High School Athlete of the 1992 Year, and U.S.A. Today’s High School Player of the Year, and the American High School Coaches Association’s 1992 Player of the Year, among many other awards.
You were so good that you decided to forego a College Scholarship to the University of Michigan Wolverines Baseball Team, and in 1992 you accepted the New York Yankees draft, and as it is often said the rest was baseball history for 20 years.
And now you are leaving us.
You did so well in the Minor Leagues that in 1995 you were moved up to the Major League level replacing two veterans, Tony Fernandez and Pat Kelly. You made your Major League pro debut playing against Robinson Cano’s, “new team”, The Seattle Mariners.
You fulfilled the confidence that the Steinbrenner Family, mainly George, placed on you when in 1996 you helped the New York Yankees win a World Series defeating the Atlanta Braves, and you were also named “American League Rookie of the Year.” It couldn’t have gotten any better than that to jump start your baseball career.
I tell you Derek, I have seen you there at that short-stop spot for 20 years with the exception of course when you were a designated hitter or unfortunately when you were injured, especially the lost 2013 season due to your broken left ankle while fielding a grounder. That injury perhaps was the alarm clock bell telling you it was time to go.
I was a little angry at times because I felt you had come back too soon to play when you were not really healed properly thereby re-injuring your ankle. Maybe it was your desire to play to please us or just your own stubborn motivation to help your Yankees win when you wasn’t, completely healed suffering a second small, crack in the same left ankle while rehabbing.
Derek, your 2014 retirement announcement resurrected memories of the times when I was a Little League Coach and Manager and whatever league I was affiliated with there was always a demand by several ball players to wear your number “2”. Even some Parents would ask me for that number.
On many occasions I had to “raffle” off your #2.
Additionally, watching the Little League Championships in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for years I was amazed though not shocked how “global” your popularity was. For example, in addition to youngsters from allover the U.S., 11 and 12 year old kid players from Japan, China, Korea, Mexico, Curacao, Puerto Rico, and from African countries, when they introduced themselves and their team, at least four or five of them would name you as their favorite ball player.
What a favorable impact you left on these kids who you never met.
You were the classic role model athlete on the field helping the Yankees win five World Series titles; you are a 13 time All-Star; you stole 327 bases; you earned your 3,000th hit with a home run, off David Price of Tampa Bay; you hit 400 career doubles; you won 5 Gold Gloves; you were named New York Yankees Captain, 2003; and in the play-offs, you were called, “Mr. Clutch” and “Mr. November”.
In 2009 you were awarded the, Roberto Clemente Award and the Hank Aaron Award, and you also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Sienna College honoring your foundation’s good work with the kids to keep them away from drugs and alcohol abuse, and encouraging them to stay in school for a better out-look on life.
Because of the great Athlete and Humanitarian you are I read that you have earned approximately 65 awards from 1992 to the year 2012. If you ask me that is more than a life time of awards for a dozen persons, let alone one. You are a real hero. I am sure your parents are very proud of you.
So Derek what are you going to do in your leisure time starting in 2015 away from baseball? I know you have your great Turn 2 Foundation. You have been an excellent role model on and off the field. You did state in your letter that you will remember not only the cheers but also the boos.
The boos were comical to me because no one could do what you did in that field in the short stop position. I remember vividly when you chased that fly ball going into the stands in the game against the Boston Red Sox. You caught the ball but you hurt your shoulders, bruised your face on the right side, and had to have 3 stitches under your chin. That is “clutch” defense. I doubt whether any other ball player would’ve chased that ball into the stands. You helped defeat Boston that day 5-4.
I was somewhat relieved when you conducted your press conference on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 and told reporters that you had no interest in Managing or Coaching in baseball. Quite frankly you belong in the corporate world, with your foundation, and if you do come back to baseball, I’ll welcome you back with open arms as Commissioner of Baseball, nothing less.
Finally, Derek I wholeheartedly agree with you on your desire to concentrate on your personal life, as you said in the letter. You want to get married and start a family of your own. Hey, what about a few Jeters; like you do home runs, say, maybe two boys and two girls.
Make sure that at least one of the boys is named, Derek Sanderson Jeter, Jr., giving your parents Grandchildren and making your sister an “Auntee”.
God’s Blessings always Derek Jeter. A slam dunk first ballot Hall of Famer with your number 2 retired.