In 18 years, people come and go. In 18 years, things are continually changing. In 18 years, new situations arise. In 18 years, we face many highlights and lowlights. One thread has remained in those last 18 years for me…. the shortstop for the New York Yankees.
At the start of the 1995 baseball season, I was 11 years old. I remember a bitter taste in my mouth that April of 95. Baseball was just coming back from a strike that ended the 94 season early. This was significant to me in more reasons than one. First, baseball was my passion growing up. I absolutely loved playing, watching, reading, and talking about it. And then it was snatched away due to a strike. Secondly, 1994 was the year my team, the New York Yankees, were going to make the playoffs for the first time in my life. I had heard about the history and the wins, but growing up I never got to experience it.
So at the start of the 1995 season, I was a little bitter but my sport was back. The Yankees did end up making the playoffs in 1995 for the first time in my life but the season ended in heartbreaking fashion. Little did I know at the time, a star was emerging. His name Derek Sanderson Jeter.
Derek Jeter got the call up from the minors and made his debut in New York in 1995. He has been there since. My childhood love did a complete 360 as Jeter became one the key cogs in a six year span that saw the Yankees make 5 World Series appearances (96-01) winning 4 times. In those 18 years, the Yankees have missed the playoffs only twice and would go on to win another World Series in 2009.
Derek has been a staple in the top of the Yankees lineup. He has consistently performed at a high level in tenure. He has come through in the clutch time after time. He was named Yankee captain. And more importantly, he has been a model citizen on and off the field.
Derek came up to the Yankees from the minor leagues with 3 other guys, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada. All four of these guys were a part of this Yankee run. Three of them have retired, each time taking a thread of my childhood with them.
I have been able to experience what many Yankee fans before me have, a childhood full of memories and victories. Those childhood’s before me were able to tell stories about great players, great games, and championships. I to will be able to do the same for my son thanks in part to Derek Jeter. I can only hope that there is a 12 year old somewhere in this world right now that can be my son’s Derek Jeter- someone who will act with class and dignity and the skills that Jeter has displayed the last 18 years.
Derek will go down in Yankee history as one of the all time great Yankees. The last thread connecting me back to my childhood is also about to go into history. Thank You Derek.