Derek Jeter: “I’m Most Proud Of Being A New York Yankee”

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

“I’m most proud of being a New York Yankee,” the words from Derek Jeter Wednesday afternoon.

 He addresed the last question at a press conference in New York City as the newest National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee along with Larry Walker. 

One vote. That denied Derek Jeter as a unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and that should not matter. Jeter said that did not make a difference.

 So fans that are outraged about Jeter not joining Mariano Rivera, his teammate, back-to-back as unanimous choices to the Hall, need to take a break.

Derek Jeter, unanimous or not, is one of a kind and there was never a doubt when his eligibility came for the call to the hall  Perhaps, not the greatest shortstop, or Hall of Famer, but one of the best of the modern baseball era. 

Here are some of the accomplishments:

A five-time World Series champion.  He is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). 

His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter was the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career ranked sixth in MLB history in career hits and first among shortstops. 

The Yankees retired his Number 2. He was the longtime face of the franchise and part of that “Core Four” and four straight World Series championships under manager Joe Torre.

“”A Derek Jeter comes along once in a generation,” Torre said in a statement. “It was a true privilege to watch Derek and to be his manager for 12 years. To this day, he still calls me ‘Mr. Torre.’ Today, it is a pleasure to say, ‘Welcome to the Hall, Mr. Jeter!’ You did it with class and grace.”

This writer does not have a vote in the Hall of Fame balloting. If so, Jeter gets a vote here as a first ballot Hall of Famer. He was the epitome of a New York Yankee and an asset for the game of baseball.

More than his credibility, which was never an issue, the unanimous vote would have been  icing on the cake. Derek Jeter, though. played the game and did his business as that longtime 20-year shortstop for the New York Yankees.

The Hall of Fame was never in the picture. He made this a Hall of Fame career. 

Though the persona and character of a player should have no impact on the vote for enshrinement, Jeter, could be an exception. His teammates, prior, during, and after the championship years all saw this coming.

The opposite players on the field all saw this coming. And that word respect, all  for Number 2, they will be there with Jeter up in Cooperstown in July.

“It’s going to be a very special day standing next to Derek in Cooperstown this summer,” Mariano Rivera said in a statement. “ He had such a deep desire to win, and that singular commitment to his team is what made him so special. Derek prided himself on being a consistent presence.”

He added, “ No moment was too big. He was fearless, and he was the type of leader we knew we could count on year after year. I feel so fortunate that he was a teammate and friend for my entire career, and I congratulate him on this great honor.”

 Rivera will hold that distinction as the first unanimous player voted into the Hall and there may not be another one, that is, unless another Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera comes along.

And with the media that respect was also a part of Derek Jeter on and off the field, tough the writers who get this privilege look at the numbers and contribution for Hall of Fame credentials. 

“The Captain” of the Yankees was always available after a loss. There was always time to answer the questions, the last one reporter to ask always got the proper response which also defined his leadership in the Yankees clubhouse.

Off the field, Derek Jeter went his business. You never heard about controversy, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.He represented the Yankees pinstripes and all in good standing.

A managers type of player. And for the media, their type of player. Recall after the Yankees bitter 2001 World Series loss to the Diamondbacks, after Luis Gonzalez got that hit through the infield off Mariano Rivera in Phoenix.   

In the visitor’s clubhouse, at his locker stall, there was Derek Jeter. In that quiet and hush Yankees’ room, after contemplating the loss with his head bowed  and a bat by his side, , Derek Jeter was ready to talk,

Like all baseball players who talk after a bitter loss, he said “This is baseball.”  But, Derek Jeter offered more than that standard quote. He was the person offering a perspective with minimal talk about analyzing what went wrong.

It was a simple conversation. This was a part of the moment and showing that baseball is a game. Recall,  as we all do, that was a year of baseball coming off the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

That was Derek Jeter. The person and baseball player that you could never criticize. No ego to him and a team player.

His day arrived. The attention will be about Derek Jeter in the months ahead and we will never get tired of cheering the newest Hall of Fame inductee.

Unanimous or not and well deserved. One of a kind is Derek Jeter. And, he continues to make an impact as co-owner of the Miami Marlins.

But there is that distinction over many who played the game.

Comment:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

Print Friendly, PDF & Email