Top 10 of The Decade: #3
#3. Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium
Derek Jeter. The MLB icon who enjoyed a storybook career playing for his childhood team, the New York Yankees, decided 2014 would be his final season as a baseball player. Thus, the whole season was dedicated to Jeter’s farewell tour in which he received numerous gifts from each opposing ballpark he visited. As Jeter’s career drew to a close, his legacy as a player was discussed by analysts and fans alike. Pretty much everyone other than Keith Olbermann, marveled at the illustrious career Jeter had in Pinstripes. As Jeter’s Yankee career drew to a close in his final game at Yankee Stadium on September 25, 2014, baseball fans of all ages gathered around their T.V.’s to witness greatness one last time. And similar to the rest of his storied career, he would not disappoint.
In his 1st at-bat of the game facing Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman, Jeter ripped a 3-1 fastball that nearly cleared the left-center field fence. The ball hit off the very top of the wall and Jeter coasted into second base with a double in front of 48,000 screaming fans. The the next 2 at-bats were less successful and Jeter stepped to the plate in the 7th inning, many fans expecting this to be his last home at-bat. With the game tied 2-2 and the bases loaded, he grounded to shortstop J.J. Hardy who, in an attempt to turn a double play, threw the ball into the outfield. 2 runs scored and Jeter arrived safely at first.
Heading into the 9th inning, the Yankees were up 5-2 with star closer David Robertson in the game. The crowd broke into “Thank you, Derek” chants expecting Robertson to end the game. However, 3 runs later and the game now tied, the Yankees came to the plate hoping to give Mr. Jeter one last at-bat in the Bronx. With a runner at second base and 2 outs, Jeter stepped up to the plate. Bob Shepherd’s legendary voice echoed through the stadium with the words “Now batting for the Yankees, No. 2, Derek Jeter, No. 2.” Yankees fans around the country did what they had done for the last 20 years: expect Derek Jeter to come up clutch. And that he did. He jumped on the first pitch from Orioles pitcher Evan Meek and hit it, in typical Jeter fashion, between the first and second baseman into the outfield for a base hit. Runner Antoan Richardson raced around third and slid in safely at home and pandemonium broke out in the stadium. Jeter leaped into the air with his smile beaming from ear to ear. A Yankee legend had once again left his mark.
With Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” echoing throughout the stadium, Jeter was met by Yankee legends and former teammates Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez and former manager Joe Torre. A memorable exit for a truly remarkable baseball player. Derek Jeter was a figure that was larger than life whose consistent play and flare for the dramatic made him an all-time great and a crowd favorite. As a Yankees fan growing up, it was always his dream to suit up in the Pinstripes. Thus, Michael Kay’s words “Derek Jeter: Where fantasy becomes reality” rang true, especially in that final at-bat. Jeter’s last home game at Yankee Stadium will go down as one of the most iconic moments in MLB history.