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Baseball loses role model, ambassador with Derek Jeter's retirement

Thinking Outside The Batter's Box is a blog about baseball published every week.
Thinking Outside The Batter’s Box is a blog about baseball published every week.

by Jacob Gurvis
What Derek Jeter has done for the game of baseball over the last twenty years is not something that will be forgotten. He has been an exceptional role model to younger players and fans, a great leader, and most importantly, and honorable player who plays the game the right way. As a Red Sox fan, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Or should I say Re2pect. Anyway, I see him as a great man who has done great things for the game I love, not as a Yankee. And sure, he’ll go down as one of the best Yankees ever, but he is one of those players every fan has to love.
With his dramatic final days in baseball, including a walk-off hit in his last at-bat at Yankee Stadium, and an RBI hit in his last at-bat ever at Fenway on Sunday, Jeter is officially done. And he did it in grand style.
In his twenty years as Yankee, Jeter has been a leader, a role model, a consistent source of talent and success, and an overall fantastic person. Considered by many to be the face of baseball, Jeter has been an ambassador to the league for years, and he will be sorely missed by his fans, teammates, and baseball as a whole.
“The Captain,” who has led the New York Yankees as captain since 2003, has five World Series championships, is a 14-time All-Star, won Rookie of the Year, five Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers, a World Series MVP, and two Hank Aaron awards. But it’s not Jeter’s accolades that make him such a special man. It’s the way he carries himself on and off the field.
Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, which he established in 1996, works to help children and teenagers avoid drug and alcohol addiction, and gives rewards to children with high academic achievement. The foundation has raised over 17 million dollars for different organizations. Jeter is also known to be a philanthropic man in general, and has been a leader in Major League Baseball’s participation in the Stand Up 2 Cancer campaign the past few seasons.
Even more important than Jeter’s charity work is the way he plays the game of baseball. He is a huge role model to kids everywhere, Yankees fans or not, and is one of the world’s most famous and looked up-to athletes. In Fortune Magazine’s Top 50 World Leaders, Jeter was eleventh. And even more notable, is that many other celebrities and athletes look up to him.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is one of those people. In an interview with ESPN last week, he said, “Derek, he’s been a great role model for me. Coming to New York as a young guy and just seeing the way he conducted himself—a guy who has won championships, been the captain of that team, just the way he’s handled the media, the way he handled the wins, the losses, the good times, the bad times and just being a true professional and the way he carried himself.”
Rookie Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts also looks up to Jeter. Bogaerts wears the same number of Jeter, his favorite player. In an interview with the Cape Cod Times in March, he said, “I always wanted to become like him, definitely, when I was small. Everyone respects him so much. A lot of people look up to him, and he’s a good example for us playing the game and also the youngsters coming up.”
So while many Yankees fans and baseball fans in general admire Jeter for his skill and character, it isn’t very often that a player commands such respect from his fellow players and his coaches.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig also has a tremendous amount of respect for Jeter, one of his sport’s biggest leaders and stars. “When I was kid, as I reminisced the other day, my favorite player was Joe DiMaggio. What Joe D meant to my generation, Derek has meant to his. I’ve been overjoyed to see Derek join the heroes of my youth—Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and all the other greats. He is a great champion in every way.”
With his longtime teammate and friend Mariano Rivera retiring and being honored last year, baseball is losing two of its greatest leaders and people. Jeter may not be the best shortstop in the game today (or ever, as some people believe), but it would be hard to find a better leader and role model in all of sports.
Many analysts and fans, including myself, have some very strong feelings about Derek Jeter as a player. Out of respect for him and his final days as a baseball player, I will keep them to myself (for now). If you want to know what I think, watch this ESPN video:
However, I am writing about Derek Jeter the person, not the ballplayer. Because he may be overrated in my opinion, but it can’t be disputed that he is a great man who has done great things for baseball.
So after it all, after the cameras stop flashing, the announcers stop calling his name, and after the cheering dies out, take a bow, Mr. Captain. Thank you for all you’ve done for the game of baseball. You’ll be missed.

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