As the New York Yankees retire Derek Jeter's No. 2 tonight in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium, we thought it would be a good time to reminisce about the legendary shortstop's last trip to the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Here's the article that Bob Elliott wrote that was originally published on this site on September 2, 2014.
Jeter’s farewell to the Rogers Centre
By Bob Elliott
Derek Jeter stood watching highlights of his 20-year career on an excellent video before Sunday’s game as the sold-out crowd of 45,678 cheered.
Standing with the Yankee captain before his final game at the Rogers Centre were Jose Bautista and Mark Buehrle.
“He was in a good place, he enjoyed it,” said Bautista. “He’s had a few final stops, but none will be like his final game at Yankee Stadium.”
Growing up in Barstow, Calif. Aaron Sanchez played shortstop. His favorite player was Jeter. The Jays rookie reliever fanned Jeter to end the eighth Saturday.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Sanchez Sunday morn.
Manager John Gibbons and wife Julie have two children, Kyle and Troy. Who would Gibbons like for his sons to be like?
“Derek Jeter,” said Gibbons, “he’s a first class individual who has represented his family and his organization with class. He’s had a great career. Next closest would be Scott Rolen or David Eckstein.”
Why the admiration society amongst opposing players for Jeter?
Drew Hutchison, who grew up in Lakeland, Fla. an Atlanta Braves fan cheering for Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Jeter: “Because he’s The Guy, he is The Guy.”
Dustin McGowan: “He played the game at its highest level, played 20 years in New York without any fall out, that’s something you have to respect.”
Todd Redmond, who will soon marry former Yankee reliever Scott Proctor’s sister: “Scott, Boone Logan, Dan Johnson, all the ex-Yankees I’ve played with rave about him. Scott has told me some great stories about him, but basically he treats everyone in the clubhouse the same. He’s the most respected play in today’s game ... top of the line.”
Bautista: “To be drafted and developed by one team, win rookie of the year, MVP, World Series championships, silver sluggers, he’s the epitome of what a big-league player should be. It’s very hard NOT to want to emulate him.”
On behalf of the Jays, Buehrle and Bautista presented a $10,000 cheque to Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation and the Yankee captain was given a three-day stay in the 1,500-square-foot Royal Suite of the Faimont Hotel in Banff Springs. “I will definitely use that one,” Jeter told reporters later. He was not expected to take Yankees 3B coach Rob Thomson (Startford, Ont.) as a tour guide to educate him on the Canadian west.
“The way the fans have treated me everywhere I have gone this year is something I never would have expected,” Jeter told reporters. “It’s definitely what I will take out of this last year when it’s over with. I have gotten a lot of respect from the fans, and that’s what you play the games for -- for the baseball fans. Even if they are not necessarily Yankee fans, they have treated me to long ovations. You appreciate that as a player.”
Jeter has always enjoyed his trips to Toronto.
“I just like the city,” Jeter said, when asked what he will miss most. “I've always enjoyed coming to this here. This team has played us especially tough here. So baseball wise, I don’t know if I’ll miss it that much. I’ll definitely miss this city, but I’ll be back.”
The montage of Jeter’s highlights ended with a smiling young shortstop. Not the one who popped out to end the game with the tying run on third.
Jeter hangs them up with more hits than any visiting player at Rogers Centre (165, including a first-inning single through the box), ahead of Alex Rodriguez (119) and Rafael Palmeiro (116). He has more hits against the Jays (332) with Robin Yount (263) and Johnny Damon (250) next.
A Hall of Fame career was not in the forecast when Jeter made 56 errors at class-A Greenboro in 1993.
“They were careless errors, young players need to get into a routine fielding,” said Gene Michael, Yankees executive from Tampa. “I asked him to get a routine like Cal Ripken, field every ball the same. He quickly cut down on the errors (25 the next year at class-A Tampa, double-A Albany-Colonie and triple-A Columbus; 22 his rookie year with the Yanks).
“I don’t think we develop players as much as we think we do. He was smart, put things together, made adjustments.”
Oshawa’s Royce Weatherbee was on Level 200 wearing pinstripes with No. 2 and Jeter on the back.
“I’ve been a fan of the Yankees for 40 years, but I like other guys too: Whitey Herzog, Pete Rose, Billy Martin,” said Weatherbee who will be hitting the road in September, with his son, to see the Yanks at Fenway Park and Camden Yards.
A proud Michigan man we know ranks Jeter, from Kalamazoo, Mich., amongst the state’s best athletes along with Hall of Famers Hal Newhouser and Charlie Gehringer, hoopsters Magic Johnson and Dave Debusschere, boxer Joe Louis, Ted Simmons and John Smoltz.
Seated in left wearing a Jays hat with the red maple leaf, hoping to catch Jeter’s final home run in Canada, was Paul Murphy, who grew up in Kingston as an all-star infielder.
“He’s not my favorite, but I respect and appreciate him,” said Murphy. “He plays the game the right way. He treats people the right way ... the way my father taught me. No. 7 (Mickey Mantle) and No. 1 (Billy Martin) were my favorites when I was a Yankee backer.
“Then Andre Dawson became the first unanimous fave of all three guys in our house.”
My son Bob of the Moncton Elliotts brought his wife Sarah to Sunday’s game and her son Xavier, four.
I asked Xavier his thoughts at being at Jeter’s final game in Toronto. The cutest four-year-old in the province of New Brunswick was deep in thought before answering with a question:
“Where is the bird?”
Not sure, but our Mike Rutsey usually keeps track of the whereabouts of all mascots.
Xavier, I’m sure, will some day tell his kids how he saw the Hall of Famer’s finale.