Gardner proves what he learned from Jeter

Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, New York Yankees

Since 2008, Brett Gardner had a front row seat watching Derek Jeter‘s historical and famed career. He hasn’t known Jeter as long as Jeter’s closest friends Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte or Jorge Posada have, but Gardner has known Jeter long enough to know wearing the pinstripes is special, and its something every player who gets the chance to wear them should take pride in.

Gardner recalled the first time he ever met Derek Jeter back in 2006, when he was in the minor leagues and Jeter was with the ball club. Gardner had been trying to find his way around the Spring Training complex when he bumped into Jeter, laying eyes on a baseball legend in the making.

“Hey, I’m Derek.” Were the first words Jeter said to Gardner as they made introductions. Overtime Gardner and Jeter became teammates and friends, but Gardner spent majority of the their time as teammates observing Jeter and it showed when Jeter was out for most of the 2013 season with an ankle injury.

The Yankees were in the midst of a five game skid in mid-June as they headed out to the West Coast. Their Captain was on the disabled list and the Yankees looked defeated without their leader in the clubhouse. Before the 2013 season, Gardner was relatively quiet; he spoke when needed and did his job on the field with no questions asked. But without Jeter to tell the media what the Yankees had to do next, Gardner took matters into his own hands and told the media wise words Jeter once told his teammates.

“One thing I really learned from Jeet over the years. He’s not here right now, but he’s been so good at being able to turn the page. Doesn’t matter if you’re 0-for-5 or 5-for-5, or if we win or lose, we’ve got a game tomorrow. As soon as we walk out here tonight, we’ve got to focus on getting ready to play tomorrow.”

Ever since that evening, Gardner had become more vocal in the clubhouse and showed he had a fiery personality–he was the first one to storm out of the dugout after Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez later that summer. When interviewed, Gardner made sure he went back to the wise words of ┬áJeter, always remembering what the Captain had told his team.┬áNot only did Gardner learn how to be a better teammate and player from Jeter, but he also learned how to be a leader in his own right.

Fast forward to this morning, with Gardner holding court by his locker next to Jeter’s. As Gardner answers questions about the 2014 season and of his friends’ upcoming retirement, Jeter comes in for another day of work. With seeing Gardner for the first time in a while, he walks over to him, shakes his hand and asks him, “How do you feel about going to left.” right after Gardner received a question about Jacoby Ellsbury being in center field.

A reporter asks Gardner about the possibility of being traded after the Yankees acquired Jacoby Ellsbury with Jeter chiming in,”You’re getting traded now?”That’s when the playful banter war was on. Gardner asked Jeter about if his Facebook profile was fake, and Jeter playfully responded, “‘I’d say something back to you but I don’t want to embarrass you.”

Many players idolize Jeter and most of them develop a relationship with him, whether it be a personal or a working one. But Jeter was more than just a teammate to Gardner. Gardner was the student, and Jeter was the master–and just from observation, Gardner learned from Jeter what it means to be a New York Yankee.

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6 Responses to Gardner proves what he learned from Jeter

  1. SkinnyMikeAxisa says:

    I certainly hope the Yankees don't trade Gardner…he's a homegrown grinder-type player which we desperately need now and in the future.

  2. Yankessfan22 says:

    With outfield age and players prone to injury my guess is Yanks sit tight and will see where they are at deadline. If in race will be adding players. No scenario do I see Gardner being traded. Even if we are not contenders than you move old veterans at deadline like Ichiro. If they struggle this season it will be backend of bullpen. Having automatic 8th inning guy for yanks has been a constant as much as Mo. Now we have 2 Big question marks. I know Robinson earned right ,but still so risky since they spent so much money on everything else and went way over budget why cut corners here. All I know is can't wait for season to start.

    • David Robertson has a 1.91 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, a 12.0 K/9 and a 3.4 BB/9 over the last 3 years. Naming him closer is not cutting corners.

      • olie says:

        Rob, if they don't find a set-up man for the 8th inning financial move or not, they may wish the had brought in a closer. Also I am not knocking Robertson as a pitcher he is good but those 3 year stats were mostly as a set-up man.

        • I guess you don't remember Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Proctor and Tanyon Sturtze. The Yankees haven't always had the best 8th inning reliever. They've only had a completely shutdown guy over the last 4 years because of David Robertson.

  3. olie says:

    My memory is fine, Scott Proctor set a record for appearances in a year under Torre. You may only remember Proctor the second time he was a yankee when he was done .And althought Farnsworth could lose his control he was at times he could be dominate, 100mph. What I see in bullpen now is Robertson, Thornton if healthy and 6 Tanyon Sturtzes!