The following is a flashback to September of 2014 and being retold now in honor of the great Derek Jeter being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this week!
My oldest daughter taught me a pretty valuable lesson this week. Many of you may know that she is a college freshman in the Bronx (attending my alma mater, Manhattan College). Well – apparently she was taking full advantage of what the college had to offer. Because she attended 4 lectures offered by the school in a 10-day period, she was entered into a drawing to receive a field seat for Derek Jeter’s last home game at Yankee stadium. And she won.
When she sent us the news a couple of weeks back (via text) which included a photo of her holding the coveted ticket – I of course did what every paying-for-college dad in America would do – and I went to StubHub to see what the seats were selling for! Let’s just say they were selling for enough so that she wouldn’t have to send bi-weekly requests to transfer cash into her account for the rest of the year. As opposed to “suggesting” that she sell her seat – I simply told her what I heard they were going for (hoping perhaps she’d get there on her own). Her clear and definitive reply was, “I’m going to the game dad” – thus ending the conversation.
We’re not even Yankee fans. I rooted for Seattle when I lived out there and we rooted for Boston when we moved to New England. Kerry, who grew up in the shadows of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, has long held her allegiance to the Orioles. But – somewhat secretly – we’ve all been Derek Jeter fans. I’ve long said, that of all the people I’ve ever seen play professional baseball, he is the one who I always feel was out there playing a game. Yes he worked really, really hard at his craft – but he just looked like he was having so much fun doing it.
Fast forward to game night….
Alannah called the house at what seemed like each at-bat (so we could experience the energy of the stadium) until late in the game her battery went dead. Around the 7th inning, her sister’s phones started “blowing-up” as they say with news that Alannah’s photo was on the New York Yankees “Snap-Chat Story”. It was a lesson in the power of social networking and the fact that so many people were on it and immediately recognized her was shocking to me.
Apparently – it’s a pretty big thing and folks from around the globe were tuned into it and saw this photo (left) of her enjoying the game. By now – many of you have probably heard of the game’s miraculous ending. I personally was shocked that Manager Joe Girardi didn’t pull Jeter off the field to start the 9th inning, The Yankees were comfortably leading 5-2. Come on Coach! Give him one last ovation so my daughter can take part in that applause and get her “ticket’s” worth. But then the baseball gods went to work. And it was as if some hokey Hollywood script was being written. Just when you thought Girardi would pull him – the Orioles hit a two run home-run. But then the Yanks got the second out – maybe now he’ll pull him. He doesn’t and on the next pitch, the Orioles tie it with another homerun. The crowd goes dead silent! But it was as if right in time with us at home, everyone comes to realize that Jeter is due up 3rd in the next half-inning. All his squad needs to do is get the 3rd out. And of course they do…the script is in motion.
The Yankees leadoff batter (yes the #9 hitter) of course gets on base with a single. The next batter bunts — moving the runner to second base setting the “could this really be happening” stage for the Yankee captain. As much as Derek Jeter has played, it had been 7 years since he had what is known as a “walk-off” hit to win a game. And here is what makes Derek Jeter special. Most players would head up there and “swing for the fences.” Instead, Derek simply did what the situation called for when “playing” this game. He used his patented “inside-out” swing and punched the ball between the first and second basemen into right field. The outfielder actually made an incredible play and throw, but – he was at the mercy of the script – and his toss was a fraction too late. The pinch-runner slid under the catcher’s tag and Derek’s last moment at Yankee stadium brought the crowd – and I’m sure my daughter -into a frenzy.
Even if you saw the original game – it’s worth watching just the first minute of this video that replays the event:
I married a history teacher and a lover of sports. Last night, my daughter reminded me of the value of both. Yes – she could have landed a hefty sum if she chose to sell her seat. And I’m sure there are some reading this who still think she should have. But, what I learned is that money comes and goes. But moments like the one my daughter witnessed last night – do not. While the events themselves are simply snapshots in time, what makes them history is the impact they have on the future, those who witnessed the event and those who share the story. Derek Jeter earned his living playing a game. But in an age where pro-athletes change teams like they change their clothes and much of the news we hear is wrapped in greed and violence, Captain Jeter stood apart. He is someone that modeled loyalty, sportsmanship, class and a love of play. And if every child who aspires for greatness through athletics emulated him – the world would be a better place. Alannah – you made the right choice. And years from now -I’ll look forward to hearing you tell some child your version of when you were at the great Derek Jeter’s last home game.
Co-Founder/Director 2-4-1 Sports
About Steve Boyle
Steve is the Executive Director of 2-4-1 CARE, Inc and Co-Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports -- a signature program of 2-4-1 CARE-- whose flagship program is held at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn. but now has locations throughout the United States and Canada. 2-4-1 was recognized by the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC as one of eight model programs in the United States for its approach to anti-specialization in youth sports. This led Steve to form the National Association of Physical Literacy – of which he is now Advisory Board Chair. Steve is also a founding member of the Quality Coaching Collective – an international group of activators around sport, movement and mindfulness. Lastly, through his role at CCG, Steve was the two-year Global Lead on Physical Literacy and Athletics for Whittle School & Studios (2018-20), which currently has campuses in Shenzhen, China and Washington, DC.