Saturday, September 27, 2014

Farewell, Captain

"Take a good look. This is a baseball player."  -Billy Crystal

My love for baseball has been well documented on this blog over the years. And like every baseball lover, I was watching the other night to see what Derek Jeter would do for his final curtain call at Yankee Stadium. It seemed obvious something wonderful would happen; it has so often when the moment was big and Derek is involved. If you care at all, then you know what happened. He delivered a "walk off" game winning hit in his final at bat in Yankee Stadium, wrapping up his career with the same type of clutch performance we had seen so many times before. It was so perfect, so in character that upon seeing it all I could think of to tweet were 4 simple words and a hashtag: Of course he did. #FarewellCaptain

A couple of days before that hit the great Billy Crystal recorded a tribute to his friend The Captain. It is a brilliant and very personal summation of Derek's year and his career. All baseball fans feel like they know Jeter. Personally, I saw him play as a Class A minor league player for the Greensboro Hornets in 1993 and then several tims in Spring Training over the seasons here in Tampa. He makes his off-season home here. Rob Thomson, for many years now an instructor and coach for the Yankees, had a daughter in my youth group in the early 2000s who told me stories about her friend "Jeets." His individual accomplishments are impressive, but he was always about the team and always about winning. He is class personified, both as a human being and as an athlete. I leave you with Billy's tribute and these final thoughts. Derek Jeter is not the greatest baseball player who ever lived. He is not the greatest shortstop ever. He is not even the greatest Yankee of all time. But if you could somehow take all of those "greatest" players and put them all in a clubhouse as teammates, I have no doubt that they would unanimously elect Jeter as their captain. And that, my friends, is what #Re2pect is all about. Farewell, Captain. Baseball will miss you.

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