Derek Jeter was named Mister November with me in the stands during the ALCS of 2001. In the tenth inning of a tied game against the Diamondbacks, Jeter came to the plate just as the clock struck midnight, marking the first time Major League Baseball had been played in November. Byung-Hyun Kim was on the mound pitching. Jeter then hit Kim’s ninth pitch of the at-bat just over Yankee Stadium’s short rightfield wall for a game-winning and Series-tying home run. It was the first walk-off home run of Jeter’s career. From then on, Jeter was known as Mr. November.
3. Derek Jeter’s flip
Many call it the most fantastic play in baseball. It was the 2001 American League Division Series against the A’s, and the New York Yankees were facing elimination in Oakland in Game 3. Jorge Posada hit a solo home run off Zito in the top of the fifth, and the Yankees carried that 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh in what would be a pitching duel between Zito and the Yankees’ Mike Mussina.
With slow-footed Jason Giambi on third, Terrence Long doubled, and the third base coach signaled that Giambi should take off for home. Shane Spencer threw an off-line throw to cut of Giambi. Giambi’s attempt to reach home plate seemed a surety. Instead, the ball went just past the first baseline, but Jeter seemingly popped up out of nowhere to scoop up the ball and flip it to catcher Jorge Posada to catch Giambi by a split second and get the out that would seal the deal on the Yankee 1-0 win.
2. Derek Jeter flies into the stands
Derek Jeter flew into the New York Yankee Stadium fan’s arms with no regard for his own safety. Trot Nixon popped up down the left-field line in the 12th inning of a tied game against the Red Sox. Derek Jeter, in a dead sprint from his shortstop position, made an over-the-shoulder catch. He had so much momentum that he launched himself over the railing and ended up two rows deep. He emerged with a cut on his chin and blood running from his cheek. Team trainer Gene Monahan, manager Aaron Boone, and Alex Rodriguez helped Jeter off the field with his parents shocked in the stands. The Yankees went on to win the game in the bottom of the 13th inning on a John Flaherty single.
1. Derek Jeter’s walk-off goodbye to Yankee Stadium.
On the last day, Jeter faced dozens of reporters in the locker room. All they wanted was for Jeter to talk about his career, something he always hated to do, somehow; he slipped away to a private area, but when he returned, the number of reporters had more than doubled. So Jeter finally relented and said:
“The only thing I’ve ever wanted to talk about is winning,” Jeter said. “When there’s particular attention on you, as opposed to the team, it can be uncomfortable. But I understand it, and I appreciate it.”
Jeter took to the field for a pregame ceremony a few minutes before 7 p.m., and following that, a video was played on the center-field video board in which several fans — young and old — thanked Jeter for his years with the Yankees. At the end of the video, Jeter reciprocated, thanking the fans. Then, when Jeter appeared on the board, the crowd roared with applause.
Nothing was more like Derek Jeter than his final game at Yankee Stadium. It was as if it was a perfectly choreographed game to show off Derek Jeter as the man of the moment he was throughout so much of his career. Setting the stage, it was Derek Jeter’s last game at New York Yankee Stadium; his parents were in the stands as they were in many important moments in their son’s career. The game was tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles.
What Jeter and his fans didn’t know was that Jeter’s memorable moments weren’t finished; it was about to get emotional and magical. Richardson was on first base; Brett Gardner hit a sac fly to center advancing Richardson to second. The game was tied at 5. Then, in his last at-bat in a game that would probably go into extra innings, Jeter stepped to the plate. The eternally patrician Bob Sheppard over the public address announced “number two, Derek Jeter, number two.” The crowd was cheering Der-Ek-Jet-er, Der-Ek-Jet-er. Jeter would go after the first pitch he saw and smack a walk-off single and win for the Yankees in his very last game at Yankee Stadium. Jeter, who seldom showed emotion, realized he had won the game with a massive smile across his face and raised arms as his teammates swamped him.
It’s moments like this. The Yankees make tears stream down my face. It happened when I learned Thurmon had died when George obviously ill, handed out the ball at the All-Star Game when Bobby died when Yogi died when Mariano lost it on the mound when Derek and Andy took the ball from him that one last time, and when Derek said goodby with a walk-off win. I can’t help it; I love my Yankees.
After the game Manager, Joe Torres would sum up Jeter’s career perfectly. “What he represents, we don’t have enough of in sports; I’m not just talking about his ability to play baseball, but also what he represents as a man. Sports will cry out for more people as respectful as Derek Jeter.”
Several years later, Jeter’s love of baseball would allow him to be a part-owner and operations manager of the Miami Marlins. He stays today, but now as a National Baseball Hall of Famer.