Miller Park salutes Jeter on his farewell tour
Yankees' captain appreciates fans' ovations, pregame ceremonies
MILWAUKEE -- The Derek Jeter farewell tour continues, with gifts and genuine affection being lavished on The Captain.
Milwaukee hasn't exactly been a regular stop for Jeter since the Brewers moved from the American League to the National League in 1998. In fact, before this three-game series, the Yankees had not played in Milwaukee since 2005.
It didn't matter. Jeter's career, his character, his reputation, the whole package does not require frequent in-person appearances at this point. On Sunday afternoon, he received a sustained standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 43,544 at Miller Park during pregame ceremonies, and the same response when he was introduced for his first at-bat.
Jeter received a third standing ovation following his last at-bat of the day, a groundout to short leading off the ninth. This spontaneous display of respect, admiration, affection was impressive.
"The fans were great all three games," Jeter said. "With the signs they had, the things they were saying, the ovations. It's much appreciated."
Jeter, who has announced that he will retire at the end of this season, has also been honored on the road by the Astros and the Angels.
"The fans, pretty much my whole career, they've always been respectful," Jeter said. "Even when they don't cheer for you, they've always been respectful. It makes you think that you did something right, I guess, throughout your career. It's something I don't ever expect, but like I said, it's appreciated."
The tangible gifts bestowed upon Jeter in the pregame ceremonies included a bronze replica of his Louisville Slugger bat, a stay at one of Wisconsin's leading resorts, the American Club in Kohler, and a round of golf at the Whistling Straits complex. Whistling Straits has played host to a PGA Championship and a U.S. Senior Open.
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio and his wife, Debbie, on behalf of the Brewers Community Foundation, made a $10,000 donation to Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation. Jeter's foundation supports programs that turn young people away from drug and alcohol abuse.
The ceremonies included the Attanasios, Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin and special assistant Dick Groch. Groch was the Yankees' scout who recommended and then signed Jeter in 1992. Brewers outfielders Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun were also on hand.
"It was good to see Dick Groch out there," Jeter said. "It's always good to see him. He's the reason why I've had the opportunity to play my career in New York. So I thought it was great they had him be a part of it."
The golf gifts should fit somewhere in Jeter's retirement.
"I am not a big golfer," he said with a small smile. "I hope to maybe pick it up. I'll play it when I'm finished [playing baseball]. I just want to be able to not embarrass myself, is the best way to put it."
The salute to Jeter included this from Miller Park public address announcer Robb Edwards: "Congratulations, Derek. May you enjoy retirement as much as we enjoyed your professionalism and play on the field."
Exactly. And the Brewers introduced Jeter's first at-bat with the iconic Jeter introduction audio from the late Yankee Stadium public address announcer, Bob Sheppard. That was extremely fitting, too.
The one element missing on this Mother's Day was a Yankees victory. But the Brewers, who took two out of three in this weekend series, refused to cooperate, winning, 6-5, on a walk-off hit from former Yankee Mark Reynolds. The Yanks had tied the game in the top of the ninth on a two-out home run by Mark Teixeira. Jeter was 1-for-5 at the plate. With the infield in, he made a diving stop in the sixth inning, getting an out with a fielder's choice on a difficult play.
"You've got to like the fact that we keep battling," Jeter said. "That's what you've got to look at and take the positive from that."
The positives from Derek Jeter's career are readily apparent. The five World Series championships are merely the most obvious. The examples of how the game should be played, how an individual player can carry himself over long seasons, are also available for pleasant contemplation. Jeter will be thanked from coast to coast this season by the opposition's fans, who fully understand what he means to the national pastime.