9/24/14, "At Second, Stealing a Prized Moment With Derek Jeter
," NY Times, David Waldstein
"Derek Jeter chatted up, from
left, Torii Hunter of the Angels in 2012, Evan Longoria
of the Rays in
2012 and Danny Bautista of the Diamondbacks in 2004. Credit
Photos by Associated Press," NY Times
Beckham was a rookie infielder with the Chicago White Sox
when he had
his first chance to chat with Derek Jeter at second base. It was Aug. 1,
2009, and Beckham had just hit a double, knocking the pitcher out of
the game. During the pitching change, he and Jeter engaged in the
typical mundane banter to fill the gap.
But talking to Jeter, the Yankees’ shortstop
, was different, Beckham said. He admits he was star-struck.
was the only one who made me feel that way,” said Beckham, who is now
with the Los Angeles Angels, “and I felt that way so much, I forgot how
many outs there were.”
next batter hit a ground ball to Jeter, who threw to first for the
second out. Beckham, still distracted from the conversation with Jeter,
thought it was the final out. He wandered off third and handed his
helmet to the third-base coach. Mark Teixeira saw that and threw to Alex
Rodriguez, who tagged an embarrassed Beckham for the third out.
Few things in baseball are more routine than the casual conversations
between infielders and base runners, like small talk with colleagues on
an elevator. But for opposing players, these conversations,
retiring Jeter — when he is either playing shortstop or on the bases —
have become cherished moments, never more so than in the last few months
of his 20-year career.
of Jeter’s conversations are similar to those heard on basepaths for
more than a century. And it is not as if the 29 other major league teams
do not have shortstops, many of them as chatty as the next player. But
none of them are Jeter, whose stature, built up over two decades, has
made his enclave around second base a destination spot for players young
recent weeks, several
unusual scenes at second base have played out in
major league ballparks, reflecting the respect Jeter commands from his
One such moment took place on a sweltering August night in Kansas City.
Jeter stood on second during a Royals pitching change, the shortstop
came over to chat with him, followed closely by the second baseman — and
then by the first baseman, Billy Butler. A first baseman almost never
goes all the way to second to join a conversation, but Butler made the
trip, even though he had just paid his respects to Jeter at first.
just talked about how hot it was,
” Butler said. “That it was really
hot. He said he’d see us next week when we’re playing him. I told him at
first base it was an honor to be next to him and how much of a mentor
he’s been to everybody and stuff like that. But at second base, it was
just kind of small talk.”
Sunday at Yankee Stadium, Jeter was on second base during a pitching
change when, in another unusual gesture, all three members of the
Toronto Blue Jays’ outfield, including the slugger Jose Bautista, jogged
in to shake his hand and congratulate him on his imminent retirement.
|w. Chipper Jones, 2012, getty|
he is cautious when speaking to the news media, Jeter is one of the
chattier players on the diamond
, and he said the recent conversations
with opposing players had not been out of the ordinary.
“No,” he said, “same old.”
the topic is the weather; sometimes it is that day’s game or the
command the pitcher has that day. Players say he is always ready to say
hello, or pay a quick compliment, and is unfailingly upbeat.
said, ‘Keep going, guys, and continue to play hard,’ ” said Alcides
Escobar, the Royals’ shortstop on that hot night in Kansas City. “ ‘I’m
proud of you guys. You guys are playing good. This is my last year. I
want to rest and be watching you guys on TV.’ ”
last part may not be true; Jeter has said many times that he does not
watch baseball on television
. Still, for many younger players, he is
often there with a word of encouragement. One day a few years ago, he
had high praise for Ian Kinsler, the Detroit second baseman who was then
playing for the Texas Rangers.
got to second base once after hitting a double, and he said, ‘Hey, man,
you’re my favorite player,’ ” Kinsler recalled. “He said: ‘You’re
swinging it great right now. Keep it up.’ But I think he says that to
“He never said that to me because I was never on a streak like that,” Beckham said.
ago, when Bautista was in the Pirates’ organization and was playing in a
spring training game, Jeter said hello to him when he reached second
base and told him to keep up the good work. “You
always got the sense that he knew what was going on with you,” Bautista
said. “He’d give that customary wink and say, Great job, you’re looking
great, keep it up. To hear it from a guy like that, you know, for him
to basically acknowledge your existence, it means so much more.”
veteran players have relationships with Jeter dating to the 1990s
Torii Hunter has played in the American League against Jeter since 1997,
many times in the playoffs. One time they discussed the fact that
Hunter’s cousin Kendra was two years behind Jeter at Kalamazoo Central
High School in Michigan and, like Jeter, was a varsity basketball
But often their conversations were of a different nature.
“I can’t tell you what we talk about
because you can’t print it,” Hunter said with a big laugh. Jeter,
who turned 40 this season, has long been playfully defensive about his
age, whether with reporters, teammates or opponents. In 2011, Blue Jays
center fielder Colby Rasmus hit a double in his first series against the
Yankees and was greeted at second base by Jeter, who congratulated him.
Rasmus told Jeter that in 1999 he was part of a Little League World Series delegation that was honored at Yankee Stadium.
are you trying to tell me?” Jeter said in mock annoyance, as if Rasmus
were highlighting Jeter’s advanced age. Rasmus nervously tried to
recover, he said, but all he could do was mumble and stammer. Jeter let
him off the hook with a smile.
know he’s still trying to beat you
, but he makes you feel like you
still like him,” Rasmus said. “He’s beating you, but you still think
he’s a cool guy.”
of these interludes might be intended to distract an opponent into
making a mistake, as Beckham did. Perhaps — but the players, like the
fans, still want their chance to talk to Jeter.
he goes, whether it’s second base or somewhere else, everyone is
expecting him to be Derek Jeter, and he always delivers,” said the White
Sox veteran Paul Konerko, who is also retiring.
always that guy, but he’s professional about it,” Konerko said. “He’ll
say hi, and if there’s time, you talk. But you know he really wants to
Added: Derek Jeter has 734 post season plate appearances.
Jeter was "lucky" of course to play in 33 post season series
. Others were "lucky" to have longer winters and be resting on the couch instead of playing in
cold weather against the game's toughest competitors under the brightest
lights. Jeter's 734 post season plate appearances equate to another full year
of regular season appearances sandwiched into the same calendar years as regular season work but never counted with regular season stats.
Jeter averaged 743 plate appearances in 20 regular seasons
He also played in a number of All Star Games
and World Baseball Classics. If they don't count, players shouldn't play the games. They should just rest up to pad the stats that do count.