Jeter soaks in one final all-star game

* Bob Elliott gives his take on Derek Jeter's 14th and final all-star game. The 40-year-old Yankee shortstop, who is set to retire at the end of the 2014 season, received a nice tribute in his final ASG at Target Field Tuesday. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent

By Bob Elliott

MINNEAPOLIS -- Felix Hernandez threw the first pitch of the all-star game for strike one at Target Field Tuesday night.

Depending upon your point of view, it’s the 85th all-star game, or the 14th and final one of New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame career.

One by one ... from spring training to his final stops in each city and batting practice before Tuesday’s game, players have paid Jeter respect.

“It makes you feel good,” Jeter told reporters before the game. “This is my 18th full year and I’ve played parts of 20. For me, it’s gone by quickly. I feel like I’m young. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we’re playing a game.

“So when guys say they grew up watching you, it’s kind of hard to digest because I still feel like I’m young. Anyone who has respect and admiration for the way you’ve performed in your career, it makes you feel good.”

Jeter was asked if he’s ever stopped to think why people speak so highly of him.

“I never sit around and think like that,” he said. “People like me because of this? You know what I mean? I try to be respectful to everybody  I deal with, especially the players I play with and play against, the fans, the media. I don’t give you guys everything you want all the time, but I try to be respectful. I don’t sit around and try to figure out why someone respects me in return.”

Earlier in the day, commissioner Bud Selig said Jeter has been the face of baseball for the last two decades.

“How lucky can this sport be to have the icon of this generation turn out to be Derek Jeter,” Selig said, adding that he once told that to Jeter’s parents and compared him to Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, the icon of another generation, who was standing nearby.

“He had a great response,” said Selig. “Derek said, ‘well I sure fooled you, didn’t I?’ But if he fooled me, he fooled everyone else.”

Boston Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield, wearing an American League uniform as part of manager John Farrell’s World Series winning staff last year, coached Jeter in instructional league in Tampa in the fall of 1993 after Jeter had made 56 errors at class-A Greensboro, NC during the 1993 season.

“Part of me just wants to go hang around with him all night, but he has so many people around him and he’s so overwhelmed,” said Butterfield. “In batting practice Monday there were cameras around him, media, nobody would let him go. I can’t wait to see his first at-bat and I can’t wait to see him take the field for his last all-star game.”

As a Yankee coach back then, Butterfield’s job was to tutor infielders and his project that instructional league season was to improve Jeter.

Well, it’s hard to project with young players, but as Butterfield said, “I do know this, at a very young age in the Yankees system there were a lot of players who admired him.”

“Younger players gravitated to him. Older players gravitated to him. There were a lot of coaches who thought an awful lot of him. He looked like a baby Doberman in his early days trying to catch ground balls,” said Butterfield. “But he’s worked so hard. He’s a great athlete. He’s a great defender. Great hitter.”

Butterfield, who hit Jeter ground balls Monday during infield practice for the first time in 20 years, admitted he was nervous as he “didn’t want to hit him anything with a backspin that would eat him up.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see another Derek Jeter,” Butterfield said.

Jeter was asked what he would miss about his career.

“This,” he said, jokingly, as he looked at the sea of media crowded around his locker.

“I’ll miss all of it. I’ve been doing this, playing baseball, since I was five years old. I’ll miss the competition, but the time has come.

“It’s the end of the road for me.”

Not quite yet ... the Yankees have another 68 games remaining in their schedule, the final game at Yankee Stadium Sept. 25 against the Baltimore Orioles.