The day after the Yankees announced that Derek Jeter’s No. 2 would be retired next season, the former Yankees captain said it was “pretty special’’ to have his number taken out of circulation by the team, and something he never dreamed about happening during his 20-year playing career.
“My dream was always to play shortstop for the Yankees,’’ Jeter said on Wednesday at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers, where he surprised children from his Turn 2 foundation by showing up unannounced at one of two stops on the day to help Santa Claus hand out Christmas gifts. “Everything that came along with it wasn’t a part of the dream. When I first came up in ’96, my goal was just to stay here for as long as possible. I never thought about having a number retired or anything, so it’s kind of hard to believe. I was asked this question last night, ‘What is it going to be like?’ I have no idea. I’m sort of just going into it, and see what happens. But it’s a huge honor.’’
Jeter was the team’s first-round pick (sixth overall) of the 1992 amateur draft. A five-time World Series champion and 14-time All-Star, Jeter is the franchise leader in hits (3,465), games (2,747), at-bats (11,195), doubles (544), singles (2,595) and stolen bases (358). He said he has spent time in Monument Park in both the current Yankee Stadium and the original building looking at the plaques, but never once considered someday he would have his own plaque there. Asked what he would hope another player, years from now, might think about when he looks at Jeter’s plaque, the former shortstop, in typical Jeter fashion, downplayed it.
“Man, I don’t know,’’ he said. “I just always wanted to be known as a player that had respect for the game, respect for my teammates, my opponents, the media, the fans, the organization. For me, it just means a lot being remembered as a Yankee. That’s the one thing, the one job I always wanted — it’s the only job I ever wanted, was to play shortstop for the Yankees, so, that’s good enough.’’
Jeter, who retired at the end of the 2014 season, said he doesn’t miss putting the pinstriped uniform on, and added that while he stayed in touch with his old teammates, he didn’t watch any games in 2015. He did watch some in 2016, he said, but after so many years as a player, he needed to take a break from the game. Asked his opinion on a couple Yankees topics, Jeter said he thinks general manager Brian Cashman is doing a good job with the team, and said he was disappointed former owner George Steinbrenner did not get into the Hall of Fame.
Looking tanned and trim, and as if he could still play, Jeter was asked if he thought he might return to baseball someday. Perhaps, he said, but not as a coach or manager.
“I’ve made it very clear I’ve got ownership aspirations, at some point,’’ he said. “Who knows when that is, who knows if you get the opportunity — I hope I do. But in terms of coaching or anything like that? No. The schedule’s bad. It’s a rough schedule. You don’t realize how bad the schedule is until you don’t have to do it. So I think I’d pass on that.’’