I’ve been a fan of the New York Yankees ever since I was 10 years old. My dad was the one who introduced me to the Yankees, although I became a fan by accident. He was trying to mold my brother into becoming a Yankees fan but my brother became a fan of the Boston Red Sox. My dad’s love for the Yankees rubbed off on me and since then, he taught me everything he knew about the men in pinstripes, starting with the Yankees captain Derek Jeter.
My dad bought me my first Derek Jeter t-shirt, bought me the New York Yankees World Series guide from the year 2000 (mostly because I saw Jeter on the cover) and I took in my first Yankees game, my eyes locked on Jeter as he made fielding shortstop look as easy as buying a pack of baseball trading cards from a grocery store.
As I grew older, so did my appreciation for Jeter. I always admired his dedication to the game of baseball. In Jeter’s mind, he was invincible; unless something was broken, he expected to be in the Yankees starting lineup every single day, all season long.
You sometimes figure baseball players would play forever, you have secret hope they would somehow find the fountain of youth, take a sip and continue on with their careers as if they never aged. Unfortunately, I realized that wasn’t the case when Jorge Posada, the first member of the legendary Core Four retired. Reality began to sink when Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera joined Posada in retirement, leaving Jeter as the only current member. I was well aware Jeter would retire at some point, it’s inevitable.
I just didn’t think he would announce his retirement today.
It felt like Mariano Rivera’s retirement all over again; every day is one step closer to us fans never seeing our idols on the field, playing the game they love again.
When I hear stories from the older generation of Yankees fans on how they’ve seen players such as Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin or Don Mattingly live, it’s always interesting and it makes me wish I could tell stories like that to the future generation. Now I can.
I can mention Mariano Rivera being the leader in saves, I can mention Andy Pettitte having the most wins in the postseason, I can mention Jorge Posada coming through in clutch situations and I can mention Derek Jeter’s 3,000 hits. And I can mention that I’ve seen every single one of them in person.
It’s hard to think on the final day of the season, Jeter will hang up his cleats, put away his uniform and walk out of the clubhouse for the last time as a player. It’s difficult to picture a vivid thought of that scenario but it won’t be to the imagination–instead, it will be reality. All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, that includes Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame career and the existence of the legendary Core Four.