“Now batting for the Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter. Number two”. Last night we got to hear those famous words from the voice of Bob Sheppard, the longtime voice of the New York Yankees, who sadly passed away on July 11, 2010. But thanks to the retirement of Jeter’s number two last night into Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, we got to hear those famous words one last time.
A much deserved night for DJ, who will forever go down as one of the most iconic players to ever wear pinstripes. As a kid born in the mid-90’s in New Jersey, I was lucky enough to grow up watching number two take the field. It was an honor and a privilege to watch him play, and he will forever go down as my favorite player to take the field.
Statistically, he is certainly Hall of Fame worthy. Sure, he was not the greatest player of all time when it comes to numbers, but his numbers are still plenty remarkable. In a 20 year career, Jeter batted .310 over the course of 11,1195 at-bats. He collected 3,465 hits, 260 of which were home runs. All of this came with one organization, the New York Yankees, as he and the team won five World Series Championships together.
Jeter will go down as the face of baseball for many baseball fans who are a part of my generation. And quite frankly, his on-field achievements are not the reason why. Simply put, Derek Jeter is the perfect role model. He was not only a great for the sport of baseball, but for all of those young kids who looked up to him.
When it comes to role models in sports, it is often hard to find someone as polished as DJ. From his personality to his work ethic to the way he speaks to the way he plays, there is nothing you can point to that makes Jeter look bad. He has no criminal record like many other athletes. He does not show poor behavior on the field. He is never in the middle of a scandalous story on TMZ.
For starters, let’s look at how he approached the game of baseball. Jeter always brought 100% to the game, no matter what. He played the game the right way. He was always willing to put it all on the line to help his team win each and every game. The moment that immediately comes to mind is “the dive”, which I have attached below.
But as I mentioned earlier, as impressive as his on the field exploits were, it is his perfect demeanor away from the field that truly makes him stand out as the ideal role model.
Any time Jeter speaks, he is a class act. He is always thanking the Steinbrenner family for the opportunities they gave him. He is always thanking his family for all of their support. Let’s not forget how he always reminds Yankee fans how they are the greatest of all time. He never has anything negative to say about anyone.
On top of that, Mr. November was never in the middle of any sort of controversy. You have great athletes, such as Jeter’s former teammate, Alex Rodriguez, who have their image tarnished by the use of steroids. Not Jeter though.
One comparison I always like to make is with Jeter and Tom Brady. I cannot stand the Patriots, but even I cannot deny how great of a career Brady has had. He has been the central figure in five Super Bowl victories. Like Jeter, Brady is a surefire Hall of Famer.
So while many like to call him “Tom Terrific”, as he is one of the most iconic athletes of our time, he will forever have his name tarnished by all of the controversies that have surrounded his Patriots teams. In particular, his involvement in “Deflategate” will always have some shaking their head.
So while Tom may still be terrific in other ways, he is not perfect like Jeter. There will never be another Derek Jeter in the world of sports. He is a once in a lifetime player and role model.
I would like to end by saying thank you Derek. Your career may be over, but you have earned plenty of lifelong fans. I will always associate the number two with my favorite Yankee of all-time, on and off the field.