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SportsBaseballYankees

Derek Jeter's first, last manager reflect on the Captain's career

Joe Girardi and Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter

Joe Girardi and Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter shake hands before Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium. (Oct. 10, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

It was a night to celebrate Derek Jeter's career, so why not this tidy historical bracket for his last game in pinstripes: One team was led by his first major-league manager, the other by his last.

Both the Orioles' Buck Showalter and Yankees' Joe Girardi said they mostly were just honored to be part of it, like the rest of the crowd at Yankee Stadium Thursday night.

"Oh, yeah, are you kidding me?" Showalter said before the game when someone asked whether he was glad he was in the Bronx for the big night.

Said Girardi, "I think it's something all of us will remember, that we were here tonight."

Joe Torre -- "Mr. Torre," to Jeter -- was at the helm for Jeter's best seasons, of course. But Showalter and Girardi were able to offer specialized opinions, one as a witness to the start of it all, the other as a former teammate.

Showalter said that while he knew Jeter would be good, he would not have guessed when the skinny kid broke into the majors in 1995 -- Showalter's final season as Yankees manager -- that he would be talking about Jeter as an iconic baseball figure 19 years later.

"No, of course not, nobody's that smart," he said. "But it doesn't surprise me looking back on it because of who he is and how he goes about things."

Showalter only needed to go back one day to find an example of the Jeter approach. He recalled Jeter grounding out in his final at-bat Wednesday and fans trying to coax him out of the dugout for a curtain call.

He declined, citing a reluctance to disrupt the game.

"That tells you all you need to know about Derek," he said.

Showalter said it was in keeping with the Jeter of the mid-1990s, before the 3,000 hits and five World Series rings.

"What's the thing about the true character of a man being what he does when no one is looking?" Showalter said. "Well, you have no doubt what Derek is doing when no one's looking."

While Showalter merely was an interested bystander Thursday, it was Girardi who had to figure out how to handle the grand Bronx finale.

Before the game he said he planned "to let it go through and take its course" in terms of stage-managing the evening. But he said that regardless it would be an emotional experience not only for Jeter but for his immediate supervisor.

"It will be difficult for me," he said. "I got a little choked up [Wednesday] after his last at-bat and the way the fans reacted. You start thinking that you've been around someone for so long and all of a sudden he's not going to be there and the importance of him to this organization. I got a little choked up."

Girardi said that while he keeps all of his lineup cards, presumably including this one, he didn't plan to take much else away from the night in a material sense.

"Maybe I'll keep one ball," he said, "but it's the memories more than the mementos that I really want to hang onto when I think about my time with Derek Jeter."

New York Sports