But there he was, with a sold-out crowd on its collective feet, chanting his name, rooting for him to be the game’s hero in his final appearance in the Bronx in a Yankees uniform after 20 years.
If Jeter was nervous, it did not show. Rather, he performed just as he has over his Hall of Fame career. He slapped a single to right field, scoring the runner at second base and touching off a loud, extended celebration of a 6-5 New York win.
It was the ideal cap to “The Captain’s” two-decades-long run with the Yankees.
“It was above and beyond anything that I’ve ever dreamt of,” Jeter said.
Yankees players rushed out to engulf Jeter as former teammates such as Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez and Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre lined up near the New York dugout waiting to greet Jeter.
“We’ve shared a lot of success, a lot of memories together,” Jeter said. “I guess this is one last one we can share together.”
Jeter will play in the season-ending series at Boston, but only as a designated hitter.
“I wanted to take something special from Yankee Stadium, and the view from shortstop here, tonight is what I want to take from it,” Jeter said. “Out of respect for the Red Sox, their fans and the rivalry, I’m going to DH. I hope that people can respect my decision. I’ve only played shortstop for my entire career, and the last time I want to play it is tonight.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi deemed it appropriate Jeter’s final game in New York concluded as it did.
“I think it’s fitting,” Girardi said. “Because you think about all the big hits that he’s had in his career, and all the things that he’s done to help this club win championships and divisions. He’s been here since the run that started in ’96. I don’t think there’s a more fitting way for it to end.”