As a life-time Yankee fan I was very concerned about the weather for Jeter’s last home game at Yankee Stadium which was scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 25. Wednesday night’s weather forecast for Thursday called for afternoon and evening heavy rain. Would Jeter’s final home-game be cancelled? If cancelled would it be made up? It is well-known that if a game at the end of a season is meaningless (which this one would be) it would not be made up.
As you know Jeter’s retirement tour provided him with special gifts from each team when he made his final appearance at their stadiums. His gifts included a $10,000 donation to his foundation from the Royals , a bench constructed of bats, balls and bases from the White Sox, customized cowboy boots and hat from the Astros, a 12-foot pinstriped paddleboard from the Angels, second base from the final game at the Metrodome in 2009 from the Twins, a No 2 Mosaic made of tiles from the New York subway from the Mets, a vacation at a Napa Valley vineyard from the Athletics, a custom pinstriped sea kayak from the Rays, a seat from the Kingdome site of his first hit from the Mariners, cowboy boots and an autographed photo from Game 3 of the 2001 World Series from the Rangers, a bucket of steamed clams and a Navy Admiral’s hat from the Orioles, a custom-made pinstriped Les Paul Gibson guitar from the Indians, a vacation in the Canadian Rockies from the Blue Jays, and a clubhouse massage machine from his Yankees. The gift from the Baseball Gods would follow.
Thursday morning came as advertised. It was cloudy with light rain. This Thursday was the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and my wife and I went to our synagogue to attend services. Returning home it still was cloudy with light rain. It remained cloudy through most of the afternoon. Finally by late afternoon the sun popped out and from this point on there was no more rain.
The baseball Gods had spoken. Jeter’s final home-game would be played. At 7 pm the game with the Orioles began. The 39-year old Kuroda gave up two solo home runs in the top of the first. In the bottom of the first, serenaded by a sell-out Yankee Stadium, he took his place in the batter’s box. Sure enough he connected and sent a towering fly ball to left center which looked like a home run but wound up bouncing off the wall for a double. He then scored the first Yankee run. Going into the ninth inning the Yankees were winning 5 to 2. Enter the Yankee closer, Mariano’s successor, David Robertson. Unbelievable, the dependable Robertson blew the save by giving up two home runs. Going into the bottom of the ninth the score was tied at 5 all and Jeter was scheduled to bat second. Accompanied to the plate by the last in-game use of Bob Sheppard’s voice, Jeter jumped on the first pitch delivered by Evan Meek, using his Jeterian inside out swing to single through the right-side of the infield, sending pinch-runner Antoan Richardson diving home safely from second base. As Jeter watched the play he celebrated near first base, pumping both fists in the air before being mobbed by his teammates in an ecstatic celebration.
“What can you say? It created another Jeter moment,” Robertson said. “As much as I wished I wouldn’t have created it, I’m glad it happened.” Mariano Rivera added the comment that Robertson was his best setup man and it was only fitting that he would setup Derek’s game-winning hit.
Yes, I believe the Baseball Gods must have intervened. For Robertson to have blown a three-run lead in the ninth inning to having Jeter be put in the position to deliver the walk-off hit in his last at bat at Yankee Stadium, how could you believe otherwise.
Jeter announced that Thursday marked his last game playing shortstop, though he plans to bat this weekend as a designated hitter or pinch-hitter out of respect to the Red Sox and their fans.