Derek Jeter signed ball for 13-year-old Anthony Volpe at 2014 All-Star Game
TAMPA, Fla. — In 2014, a father and son from Watchung, New Jersey, went to the MLB All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The son, a 13-year-old named Anthony Volpe, wanted to see his hero, Derek Jeter, and perhaps get his autograph before the retiring future Hall of Famer’s final All-Star Game.
The headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune the next day was “Giddy fans bask in glory of Minneapolis’ All-Star day.”
The first giddy fan mentioned in the story was Anthony's father, Michael Volpe. It was accompanied by a photo of Anthony holding a baseball, a pen and a Derek Jeter baseball card.
Jeter signed the ball, Volpe told Newsday on Monday.
“It was super-quick and I was super-lucky,” Volpe said before the Yankees’ final game of the Florida portion of spring training. “We had some family friends in Minnesota. We got to go to the All-Star Game and it was his last All-Star Game.”
Anthony Volpe and his Jeter autograph. #stribasg pic.twitter.com/stbrPOCjnp— Rochelle Olson (@rochelleolson) July 14, 2014
On Thursday, Volpe will make his big-league debut on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. The 21-year-old was informed on Sunday that he will be following in Jeter’s footsteps as the shortstop of the Yankees.
Volpe said his father took the signed ball for safekeeping. Of course, they still have it. Volpe said he met Jeter this offseason for another quick interaction.
“I’d say I have never really met him, except for this offseason,” Volpe said. “I got to meet him briefly at an event in the city. It was brief. We got a picture. It was super-cool.”
Volpe said he was not aware of the Star Tribune story in 2014. He giggled when a reporter showed him the photo that accompanied the story. It captured the teenager with his eyes closed.
One of the authors of the story, Rochelle Olson, posted the photo on Twitter on Sunday night.
“So Volpe got Jeter’s autograph at the ASG in 2014 at Target Field and now he’s the starting SS for the Yankees?” she posted. “Dang, wish I’d taken the photo in focus.”
Volpe also gushed about watching Giancarlo Stanton in the Home Run Derby in 2014. Now the two are teammates and Volpe refers to him as “Big G.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced on Monday that Volpe will bat ninth on Opening Day, just as Jeter did when he started for the Yankees as a rookie on Opening Day in Cleveland in 1996.
Jeter homered and made a key defensive play — an over-the-shoulder catch in short leftfield — to begin his career as the Yankees’ shortstop.
Volpe understands the comparisons between himself and the former Yankees captain. Jeter also was born in New Jersey but grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Jeter also was 21 when he won the Yankees’ shortstop job in spring training.
As he prepared for his final spring training game in Florida, Volpe signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans behind home plate.
Before the game, the Yankees announced that Volpe had won the James P. Dawson Award as the top rookie in spring training.
After going 0-for-2 with a walk on Monday, Volpe is batting .302 with three home runs and a 1.054 OPS with one exhibition game remaining. The Yankees will play the Nationals in Washington on Tuesday at noon..
In 1996, the Dawson Award went to . . . not Jeter. It went to pitcher Mark Hutton. But Jeter was named AL Rookie of the Year and the Yankees won the World Series. Jeter and the Yankees won three more World Series before Volpe was born on April 28, 2001, and another in 2009.
When asked about following in Jeter’s footsteps, Volpe said: “It's pretty crazy to think about. It was my dream my whole life.”