It ended the only way it could have and, finally, the outward emotion missing much of Derek Jeter's iconic career came pouring out.
After David Robertson shockingly coughed up a three-run lead by allowing two homers in the top of the ninth inning, Jeter won it in the bottom half, swinging at the first pitch and sending a single to rightfield that brought in the winning run for a 6-5 victory over the Orioles on Thursday night that had the sold-out Stadium shaking like it never has in its six-year existence.
"I don't know how I played," Jeter said, referring to his emotions throughout the night. "A couple times I almost lost it. First inning, I was like please don't hit it to me. I don't know how many times in my career I've said please don't hit it to me. I really thought I was going to break down. It was an out-of-body experience."
Jeter, who spoke emotionally during a 20-minute postgame conference, also said he had played his final game at shortstop. The 40-year-old said he plans to DH a game or two in Boston -- "out of respect for the Red Sox, their fans and the rivalry," he said -- but his last perspective from the field will forever be the Stadium's.
"I wanted to take something special from Yankee Stadium and the view from shortstop here tonight is what I want to take from it," he said.
The New Jersey-born and Michigan-raised Jeter grew up dreaming of playing the position for his favorite team.
"It was above and beyond anything I've ever dreamt of," he said. "I don't even know what to say. I've lived a dream, since I was 4 or 5 years old, and part of the dream is over now."
Jeter said his thought at the plate before driving in pinch runner Antoan Richardson was "don't cry," and again as he was mobbed by teammates.
"I think it's fitting," said Joe Girardi, who earlier said he planned all along to play Jeter the entire game rather than sub him out at some point. "I don't think there's a more fitting way for it to end."
As longtime Jeter teammates such as Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez appeared on the field immediately afterward, the shortstop hugged each of his current teammates before turning his attention to his former ones, as well as a former manager, Joe Torre.
Jeter then walked alone to first base, and made his way past second and finally to his shortstop position, where he squatted and looked downward as if praying. He continued walking, doffing his cap to the crowd and even the Orioles' dugout, still packed with players who stood and applauded the Yankees captain.
Jeter found his parents sitting behind home plate, the pair having moved down there for the ninth inning.
"I almost started crying driving here today," Jeter said. "My teammates presented me with something before the game , I almost lost it."
Following a few more on-field interviews, Jeter walked the field again, acknowledging fans who did not want to leave.
They serenaded Jeter all night, but most vociferously in the top of the eighth inning when the crowd began chanting his name and wouldn't stop.
It was the Bleacher Creature roll call, with all 48,613 in attendance standing and participating, directing it at one player.
Jeter, with TV cameras appearing to show him welling up a bit, tipped his cap several times in acknowledgment at the display of affection.
"I think I've done a pretty good job of controlling my emotions throughout the course of my career. I have them, I try to hide them, I try to trick myself and convince myself that I'm not feeling those particular emotions. Today, I wasn't able to do it. It's been getting more and more difficult to do it these last few weeks, but today I wasn't able to do it . . . I was almost thinking to myself, 'Joe, get me out of here before I do something to cost us this game.' But it's funny how things change, I guess."