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Jeffrey Maier overwhelmed when he met Derek Jeter

Baltimore Orioles rightfielder Tony Tarasco stretches for the

Baltimore Orioles rightfielder Tony Tarasco stretches for the ball as young Yankee fan Jeffrey Maier deflects it during Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 1996. Photo Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

Jeffrey Maier forever will be linked with Derek Jeter. Maier was the 12-year-old Yankees fan who, in 1996, reached out and interfered with a Jeter fly ball to the rightfield wall at old Yankee Stadium in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS against Baltimore.

The shot became a home run and Maier became an instant, if fleeting, celebrity. Now 30 and married with two kids, Maier -- he goes by "Jeff" now -- is living the quiet life in New Hampshire as an Internet infrastructure salesman.

That doesn't mean the memories didn't come flooding back Wednesday when Maier heard the news of Jeter's decision to retire after this season.

"I think he's obviously had an unbelievable career," Maier told Newsday. "He's a Hall of Fame player both on and off the field. I think it's great to kind of be able to leave on your own terms. So I wish him all the best."

Maier and Jeter have met once -- at a card signing in Secaucus, N.J., in 1997.

Maier recalled he and his father getting a brief private meeting with Jeter before the public signing and the then 22-year-old Yankee being extremely gracious.

"I was 13 years old and he signed a ball for me and took some pictures," Maier said. "He was a really nice guy. He and my father exchanged some banter. He called my father, 'Sir.' I was just so awestruck at being in front of my sports icon and my sports idol that I just couldn't come up with the words to get much more out. He's also 6-3 and a hell of a lot bigger in person than he seems on TV. I was sort of overwhelmed with just his sheer size as well."

Did they talk about the disputed home run? They did, briefly.

"He thanked me for my involvement there," Maier said.

New York Sports