Derek Jeter folded the bill of the new cap he had just been handed before placing it on his hairless head.
For all of his major league baseball-playing life, Jeter had worn one cap: that of the New York Yankees.
On Wednesday, in a ballroom at a hotel a few blocks from his former residence, the Trump Tower, Jeter put on a different cap.
One with the Hall of Fame logo on it.
“How’s it look?” Jeter asked.
It looked 100 percent perfect.
Jeter was honored on Wednesday along with fellow new Hall of Famer Larry Walker at a news conference. It’s the last public stop before the duo will be officially inducted on July 26 along with Ted Simmons and the late union chief Marvin Miller at the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Since Jeter spent all of his 20 big-league seasons with the Yankees, the hour-long program had a decided New York flavor. But Walker, the five-tool rightfielder who made the Hall in his 10th and final time on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot, had his fair share of moments, too.
Walker opened by pointing out his new Hall of Fame jersey was way better than that “SpongeBob SquarePants” shirt he wore on TV after his election was announced on Tuesday.
“No, it’s really not,” Jeter said.
And that’s the way it went, as Walker and Jeter smiled and reminisced and took in their new status as two of baseball’s immortals.
Walker – who with his hairless head and trimmed goatee looked like a dead-ringer for Jeter’s former teammate David Wells -- was the “aw-shucks” Canadian who didn’t know until the phone rang on Tuesday night that he was going to make the Hall.
“It still doesn’t make sense that there’s ‘Hall of Fame’ all over me,” said Walker, who announced he’s going to have a Colorado Rockies logo on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Jeter, as is his way, claimed he didn’t know for sure he was going to get in, either, until the call came. Jeter ended up with 396 out of 397 votes for 99.7%, the second-best total all-time behind former teammate Mariano Rivera’s unanimous election last year.
“I never took this for granted,” Jeter said. “I understand that these are the best players that ever played the game, and when you’re in it, I never necessarily sat down and viewed myself that way. It was always, ‘What’s next, what’s next, what’s next? How can we win, and then how can we win some more?’ ”
Jeter did win – five World Series titles with the Yankees – but in his post-playing career is doing little other than losing as CEO of the rebuilding Miami Marlins.
“It’s been a lot of fun down there losing,” Jeter quipped when someone asked to compare the Miami experience to his New York playing days.
“The bottom line is,” Jeter said, “when you’re competing, you’re competing to win. We’ve taken on quite a challenge down there in Miami. We look at it as a huge opportunity. We believe in the fanbase in Miami. We believe in the organization that we’re building. We understand it’s going to take some time. I’ve said it before. I preach patience, even though I have none. “
Jeter is having to be patient with one thing, however. He said he had not yet spoken with Rivera since getting the news.
“Mo disappears a little bit,” Jeter said. “You can reach out to Mo and he won’t answer his phone for a couple of months and then he’ll resurface.”
Near the end of the news conference, Jeter was informed by a reporter that his plaque is slated to hang next to Rivera’s in Cooperstown.
“That’s news to me – is that accurate?” Jeter said, before adding: “That’s awesome.”