The Yankees last night retired former SS Derek Jeter’s No. 2 jersey with a lavish 40-minute pre-game ceremony that included a group of more than two dozen former teammates, coaches, scouts and other Yankees officials, as well as HOFers Joe Torre and Reggie Jackson. Marlins manager Don Mattingly, also a former Yankees captain, submitted a taped video message congratulating Jeter. Following the introduction of guests, a video montage of career highlights, and unveiling of the Monument Park plaque and retired number, Jeter addressed the Yankee Stadium crowd with about four minutes of what he later called unprepared remarks. “There isn’t a person who I would trade places with that’s playing, now or ever,” he told the fans. “The reason I say that is because I got to play for a first-class organization, and in front of the greatest fans in the history of sports. .... Time flies, memories fade, but family is forever, and I’ll be eternally grateful to be a part of the Yankees family.” Jeter then appeared briefly on both the WFAN-AM radio broadcast and ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” telecast. With the Yankees losing to the Astros 10-7 in the back half of a rare straight doubleheader, the sold-out crowd thinned out heavily by the later innings.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: Jeter, making one of his first public appearances since joining a Jeb Bush-led group bidding to buy the Marlins, declined to address with reporters that potential transaction in detail. “There’s nothing to report on that. Absolutely nothing,” Jeter said. “Sometimes with stories, people get ahead of themselves, and there was a story where people got way ahead of themselves a few weeks back. .... There’s no reason even to get into that now. Today is about the Yankees.” Jeter’s former teammates, conversely, were much more effusive on the prospect. “People are asking, ‘Is it going to happen?’,” said former Yankee Jorge Posada. “[Jeter] brings that winning mentality. The people in Miami want it. They want change" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). ESPN.com's Andrew Marchand notes along with retiring Jeter's number and "putting a plaque in Monument Park in his honor, the Yankees gave him framed replicas of both, plus a 14-karat white gold ring that lists his accomplishments." No. 2 is the 21st number "retired by the franchise and is the final single digit to be honored by the Yankees." The No. 0 is available, but the Yankees "have never issued it" (ESPN.com, 5/15).
PERFECT ENDING: In Newark, Steve Politi writes Jeter's speech was "short but sweet" and his "eyes and cheeks stayed dry" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/15). In N.Y., Zach Braziller notes the retirement ceremony "went just as expected." Jeter "aptly closed the ceremony in style, with an understated yet resounding speech to his adoring fans, as if he was lining a single to right field with his trademark inside-out swing." The Steinbrenner family was represented by Jessica, Hal and Jennifer who "gave plaques and rings" (N.Y. POST, 5/15). Yankees General Partner & Vice Chair Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal said, "Derek is the pride of the Yankees of our generation, on and off the field. He’s been amazing. He’s given back to the world. He’s been respectful of fans. He’s been respectful of his teammates. He’s been respectful of my father and our family, and most importantly, the Yankee logo" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/15). In New Jersey, Bob Klapisch in a front-page piece writes, "This was more than a ceremony to retire No. 2, it was a farewell to an era" (Bergen RECORD, 5/15). YAHOO SPORTS' Blake Schuster wrote, "Everything about the night was quintessentially Yankees" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/14).