NEW YORK -- After achieving his boyhood dream by donning Yankees pinstripes in a two-decade career that included five World Series championships, 14 All-Star appearances and a regular-season hit total that ranks sixth all time, Derek Jeter is ready to be a fan once more.
As Jeter returned to Yankee Stadium on Friday evening, with the only club for which he played honoring his 2020 induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the former captain -- like the rest of the baseball world -- says that he has been watching Aaron Judge’s special season closely.
“He’s got 55 [home runs] -- you know, I can’t relate,” Jeter said. “It’s hard enough to get a hit. I’m no expert, maybe ask a home run hitter, but I would assume you can get into some issues if you’re trying to hit home runs. It can backfire on you. But the thing that’s impressive is that he still hits for average.
“That’s something that’s overlooked and undervalued in today’s game. He’s hitting for average, driving in runs, hitting home runs. He’s doing it all. He’s got  games left -- he’s got a chance [to break Roger Maris’ American League record of 61], absolutely.”
Jeter was at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon to help unveil his newest venture, Arena Club, a sports collectible trading platform that aims to serve as a bridge between physical trading cards and the digital world.
Jeter said that his parents, Charles and Dorothy, collected his baseball cards early in his career. The Jeters had a flood in their Kalamazoo, Mich., home that destroyed much of that collection; he said that if a product like Arena Club had existed at that time, that heartbreak could have been avoided.
“True story,” Jeter said. “As a matter of fact, we were filming [‘The Captain’] documentary and we were going through all of these memories we had. I was like, ‘No, it’s gone.’ Even talent show performances, things outside of cards and memorabilia. If you see my mom, don’t bring it up. She’s very disappointed.”
Jeter laughed as he recalled the first time he saw his image on a baseball card -- a 1992 Classic issue that captured him in posed position at shortstop, wearing his maroon Kalamazoo Central High School uniform.
“I remember, there were dandelions in the outfield grass on my high school field,” Jeter said. “I was like, ‘They couldn’t have cleaned up the dandelions?’”
Since his retirement following the 2014 season, Jeter had made only three public appearances at Yankee Stadium. There was a reunion for the 1996 World Series champions, the Yankees retired Jeter’s uniform No. 2 on May 14, 2017, and after his stint with the Marlins, Jeter returned this past July for a special screening of his ESPN documentary on the scoreboard.
That made Friday’s events memorable for Jeter, who said: “We’ve got the whole family coming. My [three] girls will be here, so I’m definitely excited for them -- they’ve never seen the stadium with people in it before. It’s going to be a good night.”