LADY AT THE BAT: Derek Jeter Takes Center Stage at The 2014 MLB All Star Game

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Derek Jeter Takes Center Stage at The 2014 MLB All Star Game

There are always going to be three moments when it became very clear that, yes, this really was Derek Jeter’s last year and, yes, as much as Yankees fans, and all baseball fans, didn’t want to think about it, we were going to have to say goodbye. Goodbye to the face of baseball, to the Captain, to the player who represented the game so flawlessly over his 20 year career.

The first of those moments was Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Jeter wound up getting a nice round of applause. If it wasn’t spectacular, fans were to be excused. After all, there was a season to play! Games to win amid lofty expectations. Yes, it was the Captain’s last Opening Day but there was plenty of time to show him just how much the fans cared. But first, down to business.

The third moment hasn't happened yet. It will be Derek Jeter’s last home game, either on September 25 or, as Yankees fans and players are hoping, in October during the playoffs. That’s still, thankfully, quite a ways away.

The second of those moments, however, took place on Tuesday night when Derek Jeter represented the Yankees and the American League as the starting shortstop in the 2014 All Star Game.  It was just about perfect, with Jeter stepping up to the plate both literally and figuratively.

In the top of the 1st inning he made a diving stop to almost get the speedy Andrew McCutchen at first base. Then, before his first at bat, he was introduced as always by a recording of the late Bob Sheppard.  In response to his name the stadium, the starting pitcher and both dugouts stood as one and gave Derek Jeter a standing ovation.

Jeter tipped his cap to his teammates, to his opponents and to the fans. He then looked at the starting pitcher for the N.L. to let him know it was fine to start. Instead he saw Adam Wainwright applauding, so the Captain had no choice but to tip his cap all over again.

When everything settled down, Jeter did what he does best: put his best Jeterian swing on a fastball early in the count, lining a double down the right field line. The crowd erupted yet again. This was Jeter’s day and they were not shy about letting him know it. Not then and not when he added a single in the bottom of the 3rd, raising his all-time All-Star Game batting average to .481.

Then, in the top of the fourth inning, Alexei Ramirez jogged out from the dugout to relieve Derek Jeter at SS and, again, the applause started. The Captain jogged off the field, saluting the fans again and, relatively quickly, entering the dugout where he hugged all of his teammates and his coaches.

The crowd, however, was not done. They remained on their feet as part of what would be a three minute standing ovation. The game stopped and waited. Waited for it’s ambassador, for it’s face, for it's favorite, to reemerge so they could say thank you. And they did, as Jeter came out for the curtain call. The crowd applauded and Jeter saluted them, nodding his head in a sign of mutual respect, the fans thanking Jeter for an exemplary career and Jeter thanking them for their support.

And both of them saying goodbye.

It was perfect.

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