Fans Pay Tribute to Yankee Captain
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX– The ballgame is over. The cheers that were heard throughout Yankee Stadium have been replaced by the beautiful sounds of the cleaning crew sweeping the night away. Up and down each aisle, from seat to seat… their night is only beginning.
While baseball is a simple sport, it’s the humanity behind it that makes it complicated. Despite the Yankees 10-7 loss to the Houston Astros in the nightcap of Sunday’s doubleheader this wasn’t necessarily about baseball. As painful as it was to witness the disappearance of Yanks RHP Masahiro Tanaka’s splitter and slider, Sunday’s doubleheader wasn’t about baseball.
Twelves months from today, maybe three, the viewers who watched the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader will remember two things. One, that it was Mother’s Day. Two, that it was Derek Jeter Night and the pre-game ceremony that took place in the house he and his teammates helped build. Now retired, the moments we see are precious.
Derek Jeter got his honor and moments. Later the Houston Astros got the second game of two off to a bang at Yankee Stadium. Back-to-Back home runs off Masahiro Tanaka and at that time, Jeter, who will always be a Yankees captain was addressing the media in a press conference room that is situated a few steps away from the home clubhouse.
This was another and vintage Derek Jeter moment in the Bronx. Probably the last time in a long time before we see five more numbers retired and plaques unveiled in Monument Park. Then again, these were the Joe Torre managed championship teammates and those were players who came to the ballpark to win.
Not that this current Yankees team and managed by Joe Girardi does not have the same mentality. The Yankees are always with that mindset to win and they won the first game 11-6, and Aaron Judge hit his Major League leading 14th home run in the fourth inning. They have come out of the gate with authority and are second best in the American League and similar to Jeter there is Judge.
And the other youngsters are beginning to make this an exciting season in the Bronx with Brett Gardner a Yankee who has the honor of having the longest tenure and knows something about the mindset that Jeter brought and meant to the Yankees.
However, Derek Jeter was one of a kind. He said about that responsibility of being a Yankees captain, “To the organization, fans, teammates and media you handle it the way you are, representing the New York Yankees.”
To Jeter, and to those who have had the same honor it means taking all of that seriously, and there is no denying the fact about Yankees baseball for 20-years played the way Derek Jeter wanted it to be played.
“It was always what we accomplished,” Jeter said. Five championship rings and four with Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte. And there was Bernie Williams and a whole cast of others that played a role with the Derek Jeter love fest in New York.
Sunday afternoon, and on Mother’s Day. That was the day Derek Jeter wanted and appropriate to also honor the Mom and Dad that were instrumental for all of this representation of a class act on and off the field, and with no controversy. There was no presence of Alex Rodriguez in the Bronx and perhaps the Yankees will honor whatever legacy he had in pinstripes, but certainly A-Rod was never in that class with those fans, teammates, the media and perhaps the Yankees hierarchy.
You know the accounts and never a bad word about the Derek Jeter’s lifestyle off the field. No rumors about substance abuse or drugs to enhance his body and boost the statistics. We all know that Derek Jeter played the game fair and it has been written many times about that respect and how everyone wanted to be the next Jeter in New York or with another team.
This air was different from the other retirement ceremonies of numbers at Yankee Stadium. It has been done many times and Monument Park has that Hall of Fame look. That distinction is how that era of Yankees fans was symbolic of what Derek Jeter meant.
And that was winning and playing the game properly. It was another Derek Jeter moment in the Bronx and probably not the last when it comes to being that New York Yankee. He is one of the family and will return to Yankee Stadium for another Oldtimer’s Day, or maybe as part owner of the Miami Marlins.
“I’ll be will eternally grateful to be a part of the Yankee family,” he said. The final words but not the last for this Yankees legend.
Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso