A couple sleepless nights, butterflies in my stomach, constant fidgeting, and constant looking at the clock. The time finally came. The clock finally hit 12:00PM on October 21, 1996. I was leaving school early to head to the Bronx for Game 2 of the World Series with my Dad. That was the longest drive of my life.
We arrived in the Bronx watched the players walk in and then filed in to the stadium. I will never ever forget that moment. Walking (maybe running) in as a pre teen, with my glove on, and my Dad trying to keep up. That moment walking through the tunnel seeing the red white and blue bunting hanging, seeing the greenest grass I have ever seen, and feeling the fall October air I had to pinch myself to see if it was a dream.
I can still hear my ears ringing when #2 led the pinstripes out on the field. The crowd was electric. The experience was incredible. The outcome did not go the way I had dreamed as Greg Maddux didnt cooperate shutting the Yankees out 4-0. However, I remember the exact spot on the Major Deegan saying to my Dad “I should be so disappointed. You have told me all these stories of previous Yankee success and titles and now we finally get to the first World Series of my lifetime and were down 0-2 heading to Atlanta. Not only that we were at a losing game. But, I am so lucky to see our team in the World Series with you Dad.”
Little did I know that the Yankees would take the next 4 and me and my Dad would be celebrating in the living room.
Derek Jeter led us on a wild ride the next 18 years. The magical season of 1998 where it seemed as if they would never lose. The Subway Series and beating the Braves again for the 3 peat.
Then came 2001; I was able to sit in the living room that we celebrated in 1996 to see 3 of the greatest games of the World Series against the Diamondbacks. Yes, the Yankees lost, but I wont ever forget the emotions and eventual celebrations winning those 3 dramatic games with my Dad. There was a constant who stood at shortstop….#2
Fate came into play again. I was home from college for fall break. Yankees vs Red Sox Game 7 in the same living room with my Dad to watch Aaron Boone send us back to the World Series. The same embraces, the same happiness with the same constant leading us…#2
The Yankees would not get back to the World Series until 2009. Despite, there were many a night where we were able to escape reality and watch the Yankees. Many a night sitting on the back deck turning the clocks back to my Dad’s childhood and listening to the game on the radio. Those nights were as great as any as we exchanged conversation, talking about life, cheering on the stripes. The constant was our leader….#2.
I now live over 100 miles away from my Dad. We dont get a chance to watch as many games together or even watch the games at all. We still see the alerts thanks to technology. We still read the articles and the papers about our team. There is not a week that goes by that we dont exchange a text or conversation about the team in the Bronx. Even though they have struggled the past couple years, we still share the love. And we still have that constant….#2.
That constant #2 was everything you can ask for. He handled success with dignity never putting himself ahead of the team. He was shy about accolades even deflecting them. He handled criticism head on. He will never be argued as the greatest Yankee, the greatest player of my generation, or even the best Yankee on some of these teams. But he was everything you could ever want to watch the last 18 years. All he wanted to do was win. And all he ever did was play hard to win. In his words in which he stole the quote from Joe Dimaggio “I play every game as hard as I could because you never know what kid is seeing you for the first time.” For the last 18 years me and my Dad were privileged to watch each chapter of this fairy tale.
When he decided this year would be his last, I was obviously sad that this was it. But selfishly, this was the last tie back to my childhood.
Tonight, I sat in my basement and over a 100 miles away my Dad in his house. Texts were exchanged throughout the night. It didnt need to be said that we wanted to be together in the living room where we have watched this constant for the last 18 years through each chapter of the fairy tale.
The fairy tale that started 18 years ago came to an end in only a way a fairy tale could end… an inside out game winning hit to right.
As Derek Sanderson Jeter walked into the dugout and out of sight for the last time in a New York dugout, I longed for one last moment of my childhood. I walked in my storage room and put on my glove. At that point it felt like me and my Dad were in the same living room together again. As I punched the inside of the glove all the memories from this fairy tale came flooding back. I had to pinch myself to make sure this was real.
As the constant for the last 18 years…..#2 bows out, I want to say thank you Derek. But most of all I want to say thank you once again Dad for taking me to game 2 of the World Series in 1996. Little did I know I was about to enter a fairy tale.