HOUSTON - The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour began Wednesday night with a pregame ceremony at Minute Maid Park. And if you left your seat to use the bathroom or grab a beer, you missed it.
This may be the final retirement lap around the league for Jeter, a universally respected icon of the sport. But he’s still the Yankees’ everyday shortstop, and Jeter evidently has made it clear he doesn’t want any of these festivities to interfere with his routine.
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A few of his notable Houston-area pals showed up -- Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Mike Stanton -- to stand alongside Jeter as the Astros handed him a pair of Yankee pinstriped No. 2 cowboy boots and a Stetson cowboy hat.
"I don't have too many pairs of boots," Jeter said. "I'll wear them one day."
Astros owner Jim Crane gave Jeter a four-day stay at his Floridian Golf Resort. He also got a set of Titleist golf clubs -- and lessons -- presented by PGA pros Mark O'Meara and Lucas Glover, a Yankee fan who threw out a first pitch in the Bronx after winning the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
"I need lessons from a lot of people when it comes to golf," Jeter said. "So any lessons someone wants to give me I'd be more than happy to accept it."
Despite the gift presentation, none of the VIPs actually spoke -- neither did Jeter -- and the ceremony lasted a total of 4 minutes, 56 seconds. Pettitte, as a longtime teammate, was hardly surprised at the event’s brevity.
"I don’t think he's crazy about it," Pettitte said. "But I think he knows he's got to go through that -- and it's good that he is. I know that Derek is crazy, crazy, crazy about his routine and his pregame stuff. I think that he'll probably get used to doing that as he continues to travel from city to city and I think each time will get a little bit easier."
Jeter definitely seemed a bit anxious with the whole thing. He trotted out to join his former teammates near the mound as the rest of the Yankees continued their pregame preparation. After handshakes and a brief conversation with the group, Jeter smiled for some photos, and then rejoined the team. Later, as he stepped in for his first at-bat, the Astros gave him a standing ovation outside of their dugout.
"It was nice that they took the time to honor me," Jeter said. "What probably caught me off guard was when the Astros guys came out. So it was appreciated."
For Mariano Rivera, this process was a bit easier. As a closer, he had plenty of time for a short speech and to goof around with the gifts. But that’s not the case for Jeter, who said in spring training that he wasn't worried about the stadium ceremonies because they would only take a "few minutes." Girardi could see how he might be concerned.
"I think that’s something he will think about," Girardi said before Wednesday's game. "And as he goes through them he might ask people to make adjustments because it’s different than Mo. Mo would just go inside for five more innings."
Pettitte also believes that Jeter will have to figure out what's best for him going forward. The ceremony itself might be short, but it's not what Jeter has been accustomed to for the past 19 seasons. And as a stickler for detail, that could be problematic.
"I know that's probably a little bit of torture for him to be going through this," Pettitte said before the game, "but he had to do it. Fans here -- fans all over -- deserve to celebrate it and show him how much they appreciate what he's done in this game and what he's been. He's been a great ambassador for the game and he's done everything the right way."
With Erik Boland