New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter announced on Wednesday that he will retire from baseball after the 2014 season.
Jeter made the announcement on Facebook, writing in a letter that “the 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball.”
“So really it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100% sure.
“And the thing is, I could not be more sure. I know it in my heart.”
Jeter will retire a year after Mariano Rivera, another “Core Four” member, retired. Jeter, Rivera (retired), Jorge Posada (retired), and Andy Pettitte came up through the minors together and formed the backbone of the Yankees dynasty in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As reports have noted, Jeter “enters the 2014 season with 3,316 career hits, ninth best in MLB history,” and he has led the Yankees to five World Series titles since 1996. Jeter “is a 13-time All-Star with a .312 career batting average” and “twice led the majors in total hits — 219 in 1999 and 216 in 2012.”
When Jeter played at Central High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan, scouts said that he was a natural leader that players wanted to follow. That cannot be quantified, but it is a trait that often separates the great ones from those who are mediocre at the highest level. Hall of Famer and famed scout Hal Newhouser quit when the Houston Astros drafted Phil Nevin out of Cal State Fullerton over Jeter in the 1992 MLB Draft. When the Yankees asked their scout if Jeter would go to Michigan to play baseball instead of signing with them, he said, “the only place he’s going is to Cooperstown.” And that is where Jeter will wind up on the first ballot in 2019.
Jeter has also been called the George Clooney of the sports world for classily dating a bevy of starlets–without leaving messes or having breakups that have been turned into soap operas on entertainment channels.
On the baseball field, Jeter has been the opposite of Alex Rodriguez in terms of not only saying the right things in a way that Rodriguez never has but also getting the respect of teammates in a way Rodriguez has always wished he could. Jeter is as legit as Rodriguez is the prototypical “poseur.” Jeter played the game the right way and became one of the faces of Major League Baseball as it tried to escape the dark days of the 1995 strike. He played the game the right way — and also did it the Yankee way — and stayed with the same team for his whole career, which is a rarity not only in sports but also in all other professions. Coincidentally, Rodriguez will be eligible to play baseball again with the Yankees in 2015, the year after Jeter will retire.
Perhaps more than anything, Jeter’s play on the field–especially his famed and memorable “Jeter flip” against the Oakland A’s in the playoffs–was clutch in a way that frustrated the new-age stat geeks that will never understand the intangibles, which cannot be quantified as “measurables,” that those like Jeter possess.
Here is a copy of the Yankee Captain’s letter in which he said his dream had always been to wear pinstripes. He said he is grateful that he is able to live his dream every day in New York: