Brad's Ultimate New York Yankees Website    -


Welcome to the page for: Derek Jeter Retirement Articles

Where Have You Gone, Derek Jeter?
Jeter's public life was exemplary. Was he the exception?

By Daniel Henninger - Sept. 24, 2014 6:59 p.m. ET
Late Thursday evening on an illuminated baseball field in the Bronx, the combed dirt between second and third base will lose forever its landlord the past 20 years. Once the cheering stops at Yankee Stadium, if it ever does, the retiring Captain's admirers will be left to figure out what, exactly, Derek Jeter represents.
Baseball, which has become a statistical mania, can divide the Jeter on-field career into an infinity of metrics. My favorite is an ancient category. Mr. Jeter is fifth on baseball's all-time hit list. He had 3,461 as of Wednesday's 9-5 loss to Baltimore. At fifth, he sits below Tris Speaker and above Honus Wagner. Forget the Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter is in Valhalla.
Baseball's most unhinged fans can find reasons to qualify any stat any player has ever achieved. No one, however, is doing a logarithmic refutation of the most common assessment of Derek Jeter's two-decade career: It was exemplary. A model.
Sports, unlike modern life, is played by rules. Derek Jeter appeared to believe that he should play his sport and live his life by rules. Among the words one may now attach to the baseball career produced by that decision are dignity, composure, equanimity and silence.
Charles Barkley, an unsilent basketball player, once remarked, "I am not a role model." Many professional athletes would align themselves with Mr. Barkley. So a question forces itself into the Jeter celebration.
Though exemplary, was Derek Jeter the exception? In statistician-speak, was he an outlier?
In 1967, Paul Simon wrote an elegiac song, "Mrs. Robinson," about the state of the nation then. He wondered: "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio ? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you." And he answered: "Joltin' Joe has left and gone away."
Now we have Derek Jeter's departure, and Paul Simon's 47-year-old question returns, still relevant—whether Derek Jeter is the norm, or whether American culture has ratcheted down to something less admirable.
Sports in America carries the burden of being its model, metaphor and mirror—more than any institution can bear.
The DiMaggio metaphor evokes kids on sandlots, put me in coach and all that. It is, or was, young people growing up and fixing on sports heroes as achievers, the idea of earned accomplishment, something to aspire to.
Born in 1974, Derek Jeter would have passed through a virtual meteor shower of cultural transformation. Because something really did change along with Mrs. Robinson in 1967.
A new idea emerged then among arbiters of the way everyone should think. It was the idea that one should confront and undermine the culture that existed then, the world of Joe DiMaggio and upward striving with workaday virtues and middle-class habits. The goal now was to "subvert" and destabilize that world.
Back about the time of "Mrs. Robinson," sports writing changed along with everything else. The DiMaggio Model was Red Smith of the New York Times or Jim Murray of the L.A. Times, writing with elegance and wit mostly about what went on between the lines.
The new sports writing, like the culture it served, became more ironic, cynical. Warts and all became warts and warts.
This reflexive cynicism has started to infiltrate the Jeter coverage the past few days, as writers try to put "distance" between their involvement and the event's inevitably sappy excess—a used Jeter game sock, for example, selling online for $409.
Maybe sports—as confused about behavior as the rest of the newly subverted culture—got the press it deserved. Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire weren't Babe Ruth and Hank Greenberg. Alex Rodriguez isn't Derek Jeter. Last year's most famous American athlete? Lance Armstrong.
Derek Jeter seems to have instinctively understood the words of another 1960s sage: "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."
Arriving to sports stardom in the 1990s, Derek Jeter knew to keep his head down. He dated beautiful women but didn't marry Sheryl Crow. He didn't open a celebrity magnet called Derek Jeter's Restaurant. Derek Jeter knew in 1995, his first year in public, what " Johnny Football " Manziel doesn't in 2014: Celebrified personalities are a dime a dozen now, and the new American media will eat your fame. Don't be bait. Derek Jeter made himself a smaller-than-life superstar. That is, he stayed real.
We aren't going to load the future of America on Derek Jeter's 195-pound frame. But we aren't going to duck the ironies of what we are seeing this week.
The cultural disrupters gave us nonstop disruption. Derek Jeter came from a steady mom-and-pop world in Kalamazoo, Mich. Maybe the American heartland has something to offer after all. The Jeter era is over, but the compass that got him through the storms may be ready for a comeback.
Write to

When Jeter leaves, he'll be taking Stadium's voice with him
By Marty Noble / | 7:43 AM ET
See video here:
NEW YORK -- Supporting the oft-declared notion that big leaguers play 'em one at a time, Derek Jeter indicated two weeks ago that he couldn't say for sure whether he'd play on Sept. 25. Honest. That date -- Thursday -- brings the end of the Yankees' home schedule and perhaps their pursuit of October games. But on Sept. 10, with his team not yet clinically dead, the Captain hadn't yet connected Sept. 25 to the distinction. Indeed, Jeter said he didn't recognize the date as potentially being his last wearing the pinstripes.
Would he play? "Probably" was the response from Jeter when reminded of the significance of the date. Who could be certain, though? Even the Captain is day to day.
But we all sense -- even if he didn't -- that Jeter is an automatic inclusion in the Yankees' lineup Thursday night if for no other reason than that the evening has every chance to deliver his final moments in the Yanks' home whites. And, as such, it also has every chance of being the last time the voice of Bob Sheppard will fill a ballpark. One last time to hear dignity delivered with distinction and in decibels.
It has been at Jeter's request that the voice of that Yankee Stadium has moved across the street and remained current more than four years after Sheppard's death. Once a lack of stamina prevented him from making regular trips from his home on Long Island to the Bronx, Jeter requested that a recording of Sheppard's "Num-bah two, Derek Jee-tah, num-bah two," precede his at-bats.
No other Yankees player requested the same treatment. It had to be the Captain.

But now, with Jeter about to retire, Sheppard's electronic legacy also is about to take its leave. So, no matter the outcome of their game against the Orioles, the Yanks will suffer a loss.
Of course, the farewell to Jeter will override all other developments during their 81st home game. The reception for the shortstop is guaranteed to exceed the spontaneous outpouring of affection prompted by similar circumstances involving Paul O'Neill in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, the cheers afforded Mariano Rivera last year and all that Camden Yards directed at a different shortstop in 1995 when he passed a different Yankees captain.
But to men of a certain age, those who cut their tympanic membranes on Sheppard's grandeur in the early and mid 1950s, a final word from the man with the golden larynx and precise elocution will be noticed and appreciated. And treasured. To hear Sheppard one last time will be simultaneously delightful and sad.
Jeter will go on; the Yankees' regular season will end in Fenway Park on Sunday with the third game of a series against the Red Sox. But the splendid voice of the late Yankee Stadium public-address announcer is likely to be silenced Thursday once Jeter's final plate appearance of the game has passed.
We may hear it again on the YES Network in those Yankeeographies or in previews of the day's programming. Or a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown might provide a repeat of Sheppard's gentle vocal genius.
But will we ever hear again that distinctive and mellifluent introduction of a player in a large stadium filled with partisan folks who understand how special an experience it was for all those years? Old-Timers' Day 2017?
It was with the sound of sophistication that Robert Leo Sheppard spoke into a microphone, beginning in 1951. Some routine summer game against the Indians in 1956 somehow seemed more important after Sheppard's voice delivered a welcome. He enhanced the experience.
Sheppard aged -- he was 99 when he died on July 11, 2010, three years after his final game at the mic and nearly 54 years after I was introduced to his introductions -- but his smooth, flawlessly enunciated introductions never grew old.
Jeter understood that. "His introductions were as Yankee as you could get," he said at his locker that night two weeks ago.
* * * * *
A lifetime of at-the-park experiences began for me in 1955 with visits to Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds and finally, in 1956, Yankee Stadium. The two National League parks had moved me. Yankee Stadium did more, was more, meant more. And one of the first elements of my first visit to the ballpark in the Bronx was Sheppard's voice.
As my father and I started up the first ramp, the distinct, hybrid aroma of cigar smoke and stale beer hit us hard. I liked it. Next came the flat acres of green. Black-and-white television hadn't prepared my eight-year-old eyes for how green and vast the Stadium lawn was. Smell, sight and then ... sound. A guy was hawking scorecards -- a complimentary 2 1/2-inch pencil came with them -- with a voice seemingly borrowed from Gilbert Gottfried.
When we had moved far enough from his irritating sales pitch, we heard his antithesis. Sheppard said, "Good ah-ph-ter-noon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Yankee Stadium." A half-empty ballpark was filled with that voice. I was struck.
Sound so often comes in second to sight in our lives. Seeing is believing. Hearing is, well, seemingly something less to some folks. In those moments on the old ramps that afternoon, sound took first place for more than a moment. Sheppard's words were so full and rich, his delivery so deliberate. I loved the sounds of the McGuire Sisters, the Clovers and Elvis. But even the King couldn't make a ballpark sound so regal as Sheppard's voice did.
Years later, Reggie identified it as "the voice of God." Mel Allen was the voice of the Yankees when I began monitoring Yankees games. I decided Sheppard was the voice of Yankee Stadium. He was in his fifth summer in the booth in '56. I thought his voice and delivery were extraordinary, though I didn't use that adjective then. At age 8, I hadn't yet been introduced to the word mellifluent, either. But it was only the perfectly appropriate term. Soothing, powerful, distinctive, elegant. Ideal for the home park of the game's premier franchise. It suggested grace.
Tom Sturdivant was the Yanks' starter against the Indians that night in July 1956. He wore No. 47, a number that had never before been assigned to a Yankee. Sheppard introduced him as "Number faw-tee seh-ven." I felt more sophisticated because I had heard the enunciation.
Sheppard always treated all letters and syllables fairly. Heaven knows he never dropped a G. It never was "pinch-hittin' for the Yankees." Sheppard never used a New Jersey "A" or a Long Island accent (see Frank Viola). Either would have been an unforgivable gaffe by a man who taught speech at St. John's University and taught generations the proper pronunciation of "Di-MAH-ggio."
Sheppard gave every "T" its due, just as Art Garfunkel would in Paul Simon's "Dangling Conversation" -- "It's a still-life water color in a now-gray afternoon." Sheppard prepared me to appreciate the precision of Julie Andrews and Barbra Streisand.
I enjoyed every appearance by "Loo-ees A-r-r-royo" and even interlopers such as Jose Tartabull and Jose Valdivielso because of how beautifully Sheppard introduced them. When we played in the P.S. 28 schoolyard, everyone wanted to be Mickey or Whitey or Ellie Howard. But I wanted to be Sheppard, too. And I wanted Sturdivant to play.
Years before I started in this business, I shared an elevator with Robert Leo Sheppard, unaware of his identity until he thanked the man who had pushed the buttons. I introduced myself to him years later when I had a press-box credential and he had special standing throughout the game. He was so gracious and elegant.
I made a habit of dining with Bob and organist Eddie Layton in the press room at the old Stadium. I routinely kept the salt shaker on my right when Bob was seated to my left just so he would have to ask for it: "Mah-ty. ... would you kindly pass the salt."
Thank you, Robert. And thanks to Jee-tah as well.
Marty Noble is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Phil Reisman: For 20 years, Jeter epitomized class and medium cool
TJN 4:21 p.m. EDT September 25, 2014
Unless you are a longtime fan you probably never heard of the assorted journeymen, bush leaguers and has-beens who played shortstop for the New York Yankees between 1981 and 1996 — a period covering 15 unsuccessful seasons that mercifully ended when Derek Jeter arrived on the scene.
By my count 19 mortals preceded Jeter, one of whom had the telltale name of Stankiewicz.
Some great athletes are loud and brash. They make news on and off the field — not all of it good. Reggie Jackson, for instance, hit clutch home runs, bragged a lot, feuded with teammates and irritated his manager. He predicted that they would name a candy bar after him — and damned if his prediction didn't come true.
In terms of self-hype, Jackson was of a sports lineage that included Muhammad Ali and Joe Namath. These were outsized personalities whose words and deeds sizzled like hot, multicolored sparks.
Jeter never burned, but glowed for nearly two decades. He never got too high, or too low. Always, he was medium cool. He personified the virtue of sleek consistency. More than that, he possessed that special New York je ne sais quoi that is applied (and often misapplied) by the single word, "class."
Joe DiMaggio had class and, like Jeter, a rare kind of elegance that Hemingway called grace under pressure.
But in at least one important characteristic, Jeter was quite different than the great DiMag. Marty Appel, the public relations executive and author of several fine books on the Yankees, put it this way: "DiMaggio always seemed like an adult and Jeter seems like he still has a lot of boy in him — which is great."
Few people are better qualified to assess the Jeterian mystique than Appel, who, at the start of his career, was assigned the task of handling Mickey Mantle's fan mail.
"When everybody talks about his great character and he how played the game right — it's all true," Appel told me. "He's not the only guy. There are a lot of really fine, quality people in the game, but Jeter has that extra dimension of having played under a microscope for 20 years in the biggest market and in a lot of World Series, so he's closely followed.
"But there's probably 20 guys on the Kansas City Royals who are his equal in character. We just don't know about it."
Part of Jeter's success has to do with the fact that despite the scrutiny of the New York media, he has avoided getting into trouble. Rarely , if ever, has he uttered a memorable sentence to the press, something he freely admitted in an interview in this week's New York Magazine. "If I was giving them headlines all the time, I wouldn't have been here for 20 years," he said. "But they ask boring questions. Give me a different question, and I'll give you a different answer."
Jeter will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But he's far from the greatest who ever played the game. Detractors say he lacked range as a shortstop and was a glorified singles hitter. Rubbing it in, they point out that he was never named the league's most valuable player.
In this way, Jeter's celebrity reminds me of Bruce Springsteen's. It's a cult-like worship that is fueled by talent, certainly, but also sex appeal. Dare to criticize "the Boss," and the wrath of his vast and loyal fandom will surely follow. Same goes for Jeter.
Put it this way — if Jeter had resembled Yogi Berra, he would have been loveable but not lusted after.
Google the name Jeter along with "sex" and "super models" and all sorts of stuff pop up under headings such as "Jeter's Top Ten Hookups." Here's an Internet entry for Cuban "goddess" Vida Guerra : "She gained popularity as a video girl, who had an amazing rear."
I could go on, but you get the point.

Jeter's lucrative career coincided with the New Guilded Age when Wall Street boomed and bankers and CEOs, who identified with the success of the Yankees, bought luxury box seats and suites for thousands of dollars. It hardly seems an accident of architecture that the exterior façade of the new Yankee Stadium looks an awful lot like the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C.
Jeter is synonymous with gold.
The other day I called John Sterling, the Yankee radio announcer and asked him about his thoughts on Jeter's pending retirement. Sterling, who was an eyewitness to every game Jeter played since his rookie year in 1996, gave a lot of the usual platitudes.
But he summed up the Yankee captain when he said: "He's still young, good looking, healthy and rich. And he's famous."
Jeter was also raised right by parents who knew that there were more important things in life than wealth and fame.
Appel recalled that he was with Jeter's father, Charles, when an admirer told him how wonderful his son was. "His answer was, 'So is my daughter.' "

Derek Jeter and Mickey Mantle: A contrast in finales, and a contrast in eras
Friday, September 26, 2014, 12:11 AM

Robert Sabo/New York Daily News
Now, men can act like this in public.
Mickey Mantle’s ending came much quieter, clutching a railing in the dugout at Fenway, staggering, laboring to descend. Derek Jeter will take his last at-bat in Boston, too, but his real finish came on Thursday in the Bronx, and it was pure joy.
After a night spent wobbling, nearly crying, actually wishing for no one to hit a ball his way, Jeter howled on the infield dirt to celebrate his game-winning single, hugged his best friends and family, emoted for more than 20 minutes in a news conference. Weeks of manufactured, for-profit feeling had given way to a story we will tell for the rest of our lives.
There are some odd similarities between Mantle’s and Derek Jeter’s retirements, most notably that each icon played his last home game on a Sept. 25, and -- presumably, in Jeter’s case -- finished his career in Boston on a Sept. 28. But the differences are stark, and tell us how the culture has changed since 1968. We are crass now, but we are also willing to let ourselves fly open in front of strangers.
Until Thursday, when the payoff was sweet and worth all the prior nonsense, Jeter’s farewell tour was a tacky commercial: The no. 2 flags and patches, the Gatorade “My Way” ad, the memorabilia.
Mantle’s tour, fitting for a Mad Men-like Manhattanite who lived and died before our age of public emoting, didn’t happen at all. His career fizzled quietly, a little sad, virtually undetected. Declining health had pushed him in the direction of retirement before, but the team lured him back in ’68.
“They talked Mickey into it,” says Gene Michael, the teammate who later became a legendary evaluator and architect of the Jeter dynasty, and remains a trusted advisor to Brian Cashman.
“He was going to retire the year before. He had wanted to retire, but it wasn’t tough to to talk him into playing. They were paying him $100,000, which was a ton of money back then.”
Because Mantle hit .237 that year, and hobbled around on a beat-up body, his finish is remembered as a particularly weak one. But the truth is more complex, and with 18 home runs and an OPS+ of 143, he was far more productive than Jeter in 2014 (74 OPS+).
“He wasn’t as good a player, but he was still dangerous offensively,” Michael says of Mantle. “His legs were hurting, and he was playing first base.”
Still, Mantle limped through the summer with the help of Butazolidin, a serious anti-inflammatory. Because of the potential side-effects, he was off the stuff by the final days of the season, and could barely walk.
“The last two days (at Fenway) he could hardly go down the steps,” Michael recalls. “I know because I followed him one time. He was hurting...Derek is a lot more healthy than Mickey was. Derek rehabbed that leg big time, and he came back.”
Marty Appel was a witness to Mantle’s final season, and didn’t catch the few subtle hints that he was watching a farewell tour. A future Yankees PR director, Appel opened Mantle’s fan mail as a young team employee. One day in August, he and Mantle sat next to one another on stools in the locker room.
“He takes his spikes and tosses them like 12 feet into a garbage can, takes out a box with a new pair and says, ‘this will be my last pair,’” Appel recalls. “I didn’t know what he was saying at the time.”
A pair of spikes in the trash, and a lonely limp down the Fenway steps. Those were Mantle’s ceremonies, until he quit the following spring and was granted a post-playing fete at the Stadium.
“It was a different game, a different era,” says Michael. “They didn’t do things like (retirement tours). It wasn’t just Mickey that didn’t do it. No one did those things in those days. Now promotions are so much bigger.”
Adds Appel: “This whole year has been evidence of baseball’s marketing machine. There couldn’t have been a Steiner Sports in 1968. There wouldn’t have been a market for it.”
Until Thursday night, the old way seemed better. Jeter’s goodbye had gone on for so long that the backlash hit before his big weekend began. A man known for class and restraint was going out cheesy.
But then there was all the stuff that somehow really happened. Out at shortstop, more than 48,000 people screaming his name, telling himself “don’t cry.” The impossible hit, and the release that followed. The news conference, where he tried to answer honestly, but was hit by the failure of words to convey something so deep.
“I can’t....I don’t…,” Jeter said, shaking his head. His voice and eyes were raw, and he was sharing himself, more than Mantle could, probably more than most men could in 1968. There are the ads now, and there is the cash, but there is also this.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brad's Ultimate New York Yankees Website    -   -   All Rights Reserved (c)  -  Some information provided and/or verified by: Baseball Almanac