If you close your eyes and listen closely, you can hear the voice of famed PA announcer Bob Sheppard echoing across Yankee Stadium.
“Now batting for the Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter. Number two.”
If that doesn’t bring you back, nothing will.
It’s the beautiful part of baseball — that it’s the game of our youth — a game that most of us played as we grew up. We all had our favorite players. From Sandy Koufax to Mickey Mantle, to Ken Griffey Jr. Every little kid during every era of baseball had one special player they looked up to.
For many of my generation, it was Jeter.
I remember having knock-down-drag-out fights with the kids of the neighborhood on who the best shortstop in the game was. Remember, when Jeter was playing, there were a few shortstops in the league that rivaled him. Alex Rodriguez was the best hitter, Nomar Garciaparra was the best “pure shortstop,” and Jeter had the most rings.
And while you can still debate Jeter’s place among the all-time greats, you can’t argue one thing — Jeter is a first-ballot member of the Hall of Fame.
The 2020 class was introduced on Wednesday, and included Ted Simmons (via veteran committee vote), Marvin Miller (former union boss), Larry Walker, and Jeter; the ceremony was delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jeter is the class headliner. The five-time World Series champion had an illustrious 20-year career in New York, always playing the game the right way and with an incredible level of class. While there are those that will debate his place among the other great shortstops, no one can argue with his impact on the game.
Before his induction on Wednesday, the Yankees organization put out a video — narrated by Yankees fan Billy Crystal — detailing Jeter’s storybook career.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 8, 2021
From “The Flip” to “Mr. November,” there was no one else you’d want in the field or at the plate in a clutch moment.
His induction into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot was never in doubt — though he missed out on being a unanimous selection by one vote — considering his numbers and years played.
Jeter finished his career with a .310 batting average, 3,465 hits, five Gold Glove awards, five Silver Slugger trophies, and was a 14-time All-Star. He was in our living rooms nearly every October — taking the Yankees to the postseason 17 times — the very epitome of a baseball player.
“The Captain” somehow found a way to keep his name out of the New York tabloids, choosing to keep his off-the-field life private and focus instead simply on his job inside the lines.
In his Hall of Fame speech, Jeter took time to thank the Yankees fans, the only fans he ever knew.
“I had one goal in my career, and that was to win more than anyone else,” Jeter said. “And we did. Which brings me to the Yankees fans. There was only one thing in my life I wanted to be — and that was shortstop for the New York Yankees. And now I’m a Yankee forever.”
“You can’t be fooled (Yankees fans). You’re passionate, loyal, knowledgeable, vocal, challenging and supporting. There’s a huge responsibility that comes with wearing a Yankee uniform. You have to earn it. You demanded I earn it … I was always most comfortable on the field. Especially at Yankee Stadium playing in front of you”
A tip of the cap to “The Captain.” It was a pleasure watching you play.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.