COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The excitement over Derek Jeter's induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame made its mark upon the sports world, with no greater evidence than Michael Jordan’s presence in the front rows of the Clark Sports Center on Wednesday afternoon.
Seated alongside fellow Basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, "His Airness" highlighted a star-studded group of attendees that featured a who’s who of Jeter’s two-decade career in Yankees pinstripes. Jeter and Jordan have been friendly since meeting in the Arizona Fall League during Jordan’s 1994 foray into professional baseball.
“I pick his brain quite a bit,” Jeter said on MLB Network. “We played two completely different sports, we’re two completely different athletes, but the mindset is the same. And that’s you go out there and try to win regardless of what you’re doing.”
Jordan was a six-time NBA champion with the Bulls in the 1990s, his second NBA tour overlapping with the period in which Jeter racked up four World Series from 1996-2000, plus another in '09.
“Every time we won, [Jordan] would just tell me how many more I had to go to catch him,” Jeter said. “So I still get reminded of it.”
Reggie Jackson wore a pinstriped Yankees jersey with Jeter’s No. 2 stitched on the back, and Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Joe Torre were on the dais among the 31 attending members of the Hall of Fame. Jeter’s former teammates Andruw Jones, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, CC Sabathia, Alfonso Soriano, Luis Sojo and Gerald Williams were spotted in the audience.
Bernie Williams performed a soulful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner for the estimated crowd of 20,000, accompanied by saxophonist Richie Cannata.
“I have a very good group of close friends, and they come from all walks of life,” Jeter said. “I was lucky that a few of them were able to make it. I know more wanted to come, but all things considered and the circumstances, people were here in spirit.”