When Derek Jeter thinks about George Steinbrenner, most of his memories don’t involve baseball. Jeter had that type of close relationship with the Boss. The thing Jeter took away most from Opening Day this season was watching Steinbrenner get his World Series ring.
“He had an Ohio State ring and I told him to take it off and he wouldn’t take it off,” Jeter said. “But those are the exchanges throughout the years you remember the most. We were truly friends. We had a special relationship. It went far above and beyond just owner and player. ”
Added Jeter: “Whether it was going to his office to talk about Ohio State-Michigan or going to dinner and not even talking about baseball, those are the exchanges that I remember the most.”
The competitiveness of Steinbrenner was also something that stuck with Jeter. If you thought Spring Training games didn’t mean much to the Boss, especially when it was Tampa Bay, think again.
“He’s probably one of the most competitive people I ever met,” Jeter said. “He had a football mentality in that he expected to win every single game. I tried to tell him we play 162 games and it’s difficult to do that. He really expected that. He enjoyed competition and hated to lose. The two teams he hated to lose to whether it was spring training or the regular season was Tampa and the Mets. He’d bring everybody to those games and four of the five starting pitchers. He didn’t want to be embarrassed in his hometown.”
When someone reminded Jeter about the Red Sox he said, “Oh yeah, sorry Boston too. Let me not forget them.”
It’s clear Jeter will never forget Steinbrenner and he wants everyone to make sure they are aware of what the Boss did for the organization.
“When you walk in the Stadium you think of the Boss,” Jeter said. “If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t be here. I just want the next generation to know is that there in this Stadium because of Mr. Steinbrenner. This is a guy that gave everything he had to this organization. He wanted this organization to win. He wanted the best for his players. It’s not immediate family, but it’s a family member. We spent a lot of time together.”
Jeter also offered some comments on public address announcer Bob Sheppard.
“As for Mr. Sheppard, it was a true honor to hear his voice introduce you. That’s why I continue to do it. Every time I go to the plate for the rest of my career I will honor him.”