I’ve been a Yankees fan my entire life. In elementary school I flipped baseball cards with the boys to add to my collection and when Thurman Munson died while I was away at camp, I convinced the counselors that the American flag needed to be lowered to half mast in the Captain’s honor.
The Yankees’ roster of the 1970s was filled with huge personalities. Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Sparky Lyle were larger than life sports figures who attracted attention both on and off the field and I loved rooting for my guys in pinstripes. They were exciting, often controversial and always entertaining and I watched every game I could, including that magical playoff game in Boston when my least favorite Yankee, Bucky Dent, redeemed himself to me by hitting that 3 run homer for the win.
While life changed in the ensuing years, my love for the Yankees never abated. My team won the World Series during my first two pregnancies and I seriously considered contacting George Steinbrenner to see if he might be willing to sponsor my third pregnancy, seeing that we had a shared history of both being able to “produce” simultaneously. Those late night World Series games were when Derek Jeter first came to my attention.
I recall him as being an earnest, hardworking and enthusiastic player. He limited his drama, unlike the players from the 70s, to the field, and his boyish good looks and shy smile made him an immediate idol. When I learned that he had a close connection to my hometown and oldest friend, I loved him even more. He has been a joy to watch and my team will be hard pressed to fill the gap he leaves in their roster.
At a time when heroes are in such short supply, Jeter allowed us to consider him to be ours. He represented a team, a sport, a city and a country better than anyone else has ever done. Jeter’s humbleness made us proud and I am heartbroken by the thought that there will never been another sports figure with as much character and positive influence as Derek Jeter. Enjoy your next chapter, Derek. You’ll be missed and remembered forever.