How do you say goodbye to a hero? Someone who has been a part of your life for more than 20 years? Someone who has brought you nothing but joy and great memories? It’s hard but today’s the day New York says Farewell Captain. Derek Jeter is retiring. Me and my family will be there for part of baseball history because he has been so much a part of our family tapestry.
You have to understand what baseball is to me…it’s what bound this Daddy’s little girl to Daddy, along with dancing on the tops of his shoes. My Dad taught me how to pitch, how to catch and he came to all of those girl’s softball games when I played shortstop, just like Derek Jeter.
Yet, heroes are not born overnight. They have to prove themselves. They have to earn the right to your respect. They have to lead by example and win your heart with each flub and foul…and they have to do it with grace and humility. Derek Jeter has done just that throughout his stellar career. So, he is not just leaving the New York Yankees but he is retiring from the game of baseball because he has been its dignified face for more than 20 years.
This summer was like the long goodbye. Each turn at bat brought thousands of cameras out, clicking away, trying to memorialize a Jeter moment in time. Then I went to a game and he didn’t take the field. He draped himself across the fence in front of the dugout, his forever perch, always hugging it, head slouched, looking like a lost boy but focused on the field. It was a bittersweet feeling for me, probably for him as well. It’s a sadness that leaves a hole in your heart at the realization that this won’t last but the memory will. Moments captured in the heart and not in pictures, moments you’ll remember for a lifetime because you lived the dream and believed that anything is and was possible.
I remember the day Joe DiMaggio died. My Dad displayed a sadness I had never seen before. He said it was as if his entire childhood and youth were slipping away. With Sinatra’s death a few months earlier and then the Yankee Clipper. It was a profound moment for him.
I don’t think there will be sadness in the Bronx today. I think it’s going to be a party New York Style. I think the cheering is going to be so loud that they’ll hear it all the way in Beantown and even the Bostonians will feel the love.
We all move onto new milestones in our lives. Derek Jeter is looking forward to his. Yankee Stadium was once known as the House that Ruth Built but there’s no denying that Derek Jeter lifted it to new heights. Farewell Captain. You will be missed…at least until the next Old Timers’ Day.