If you could have written a story book ending for Derek Jeter, this would be it. I was lucky enough to witness history on September 25 when the captain lined a walk off single to right field to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. And just like that, after twenty years, his career at Yankee Stadium came to an end.
To say the stadium was filled with emotion for Derek Jeter‘s last home game ever, would be an understatement. Fans from all over the country gathered in the Bronx on the cold Thursday evening to pay their respects and see The Captain play one more time at his home — and he gave us all exactly what we wanted to see.
Derek Jeter’s Last Home Game
From the beginning of the night, Derek was completely humbled. The game did not start well — the Orioles’ first two batters both hit home runs making it 2-0 instantly. However, us fans stayed loyal, chanting “Let’s Go Jeter” at every open opportunity.
Meanwhile, he tried to focus on the field– but after the game he told reporters he was actually trying not to think about the end, so he wouldn’t cry. He did however, acknowledge the chanting — throughout the game, he would tip his hat to the crowd, in that classic way only he can.
Down 2-0 in his first at bat, he drove an RBI double to left field, bringing in Brett Gardner. Brian McCann then drove Jeter in to tie the game at 2-2. It stayed this way until the bottom of the seventh when the Yanks plated three runs — one which Jeter drove in on a fielder’s choice.
Yanks Fall Behind
By the time the ninth inning began, the Yankees were up 5-2, so the crowd (including myself) pulled out their phones to record the final outs and capture Jeter’s final plays at SS. However, the Orioles shockingly scored three runs on two home runs, leaving all of us fans bummed, yet excited to see Jeter have one more at bat in the bottom of the ninth.
First up for the Yanks was Jose Pirela, who singled to left field. He was replaced by pinch runner, Antoan Richardson. Next up was Brett Gardner, who sacrificed, moving Antoan to second base. And then came Jeter. Like a storybook ending, he singled to right field, bringing in Antoan to score.
The Yankees Win, T-h-e Yankees Win
To say that the crowd went wild is yet another understatement. It was tough to see through my tears, and through the man who turned around and greeted me with a huge double high five. Screaming, jumping, crying, fans filled the stadium, while the Yankees ran out of the dug out and jumped right on Jeter.
Besides his teammates, he was greeted by Yanks alum — Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, and of course, Joe Torre. He also immediately walked behind home plate and stuck his fingers through the net to his mother who held his adorable nephew wearing a “RE2PECT” hat, and of course, his stunning girlfriend, Hannah Davis.
The most touching part of it all (before he was doused in Gatorade) was his walk through the empty infield to his spot between second and third base — the grass he has been playing on for his twenty years with the Yankees. He crouched down, touched the ground and spoke to himself.
I’d like to think he was thanking the ground — he spent the whole interview afterward thanking the fans. That was his thing, which is part of the reason we love him. He even admitted that when he heard people chanting, “Thank you, Derek,” he thought, “for what?”
Well Derek, I’d say thank you for making me realize that you can have millions of dollars, be incredibly talented, and work your dream job — yet still be kind hearted, appreciative and a serious role model. And, well, for making me love the game of baseball throughout my entire life.
They say there’s no crying in baseball, but tonight, there wasn’t a dry eye at Yankee Stadium.
Derek Jeter’s Walk Off To Win — Watch
— Emily Longeretta