Opinions & Editorials

O Captain, My Captain: A Tribute to Derek Jeter

MICHAEL HOFFMAN

GUEST WRITER

How could I forget the first time my father brought me and my brother to see the New York Yankees? Throwing on my Jeter jersey and new hat, we jumped in my dad’s old Toyota Corolla and hopped on the Major Deegan to 161st Street.

It was the first time I saw this beautiful temple that held so many magical moments in history. Late of course, we made our way through the big doorway and up to the nosebleed sections. But what did I care? I was at a New York Yankees game.

In disbelief I looked out into the perfectly cut grass and settled dirt and was immediately filled with spirit. I sat down in those tough blue seats just in time for the lineup and listened. I heard  Bob Sheppard’s slow and iconic voice, “At shortstop, number two, Derek Jeter, number two.”

Whether you are a baseball fan of any kind or have never watched baseball in your life, you have heard the name Derek Jeter. Recently, this name has been coming up all over the place because Jeter has retired after his 20 years as a member of the Bronx Bombers.

In the news, we have heard all the great records Jeter has broken and his amazing statistics. This is a great thing to talk about especially since he is sixth on the all-time career hits list, has the most hits by any player to wear a Yankee uniform, most hits by any shortstop, a .310 career batting average and is second in career games as a shortstop.

Or we can talk about how Jeter has under his belt an American League Rookie of the Year, five World Series, five Gold Gloves Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, a Roberto Clemente Awards and an 11-year captainship of the greatest franchise in all of baseball and argumentatively all of sports.

But I think we are forgetting to talk about Jeter as a person and what he means to our Manhattan College Community.

What’s the best way to find out what he means to our community? I simply asked around. I came to the conclusion that Jeter had an effect on everyone since a young age. Most Manhattan students can’t remember a time when the Captain wasn’t playing for the Yankees, considering he started his career in 1995. Obviously, our student body has grown up with Jeter and he has impacted their lives in some way. Regardless of where they were from, students had nice words to say about our captain.

Will Coughlan, a California native and San Francisco Giants fan said, “Jeter’s an icon. Everyone likes him, no matter where you’re from.”

To verify such a bold statement, I asked a Hawaii native, Theodore Sheenhan. He said the thing he likes best about Derek Jeter is “The way he handles himself on and off the field. He’s a class act and inspiration to many people.” Apparently our students are very fond of Derek.

Mitchell Rifkind, a New Yorker and long time Yankee fan, told me that “Jeter is an inspiration to all New Yorker and showed me that a professional athletic can be an entertainer and role model.”

A central theme can really be seen through everyone I spoke to: Jeter is a good guy, a role model and a man to look up to. Derek Jeter was born in New Jersey and grew up in Michigan. He would take trips in the summer to New Jersey to see his grandparents who would take him and his sister to Yankee games.

As a boy, Jeter wanted to become the captain of Yankees and that he did. He looked up to David Winfield just as many kids in city look up to Jeter today. Statistically, Jeter turned out to be better than Winfield. How many other people can say they grew up to be better than their idol? He is a man who didn’t succumb to juicing in the steroid era of the game even though much of his competition did.

If you think about it, Jeter really had no controversies. He just wanted to play the game and play the game he did.

Today, we really don’t see many athletes like him. One we can look up to and idolize on and off the field. This is why Jeter is so important. Especially today, as we are figuring out how all these amazing athletes are actually not that great of human beings off the field. Whether they cheated with performance-enhancing drugs, have committed domestic violence or just can’t stay straight with the law.

Many people say Jeter’s retirement is the end of a generation. When they say such a thing, they are referring to the core four of the 90s and early 2000’s dynasty. I think there’s more to such a statement. Maybe it is the end of a time where people have genuine sports heroes to look up too? I hope not. Not only was Jeter able to set an example for the kids of the world but he also set one for all professional athletes. This is why I’m proud and lucky to have had Jeter on my favorite team and as a representative of this state and city.

As most of us know, it’s a tradition at Yankee Stadium to play Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” after every win. I think we can all agree that Jeter is in Sinatra’s words “A Number One,” “Top of the List” and “King of the Hill.” There is no doubt in my mind that Jeter will be the king of our beautiful city until the day he dies.

If you look up Jeter quotes online, this is the first one you will find.

“The last thing you want to do is finish playing or doing anything and wish you would have worked harder.”

It is certainly evident through his last home game that Jeter had given us his hardest, thus allowing him to finally end his career and reconfirming to us that he is a man of his word.

This is a tribute to you, Jeter. Thank you for everything you’ve done for this city that we call home.