Eight games remain for Derek Jeter to make a few more deposits into the memory bank of fans witnessing the final days of his Hall of Fame career. And one huge moment awaits Jeter on Thursday, when the fans will give him a send-off in his final Yankee Stadium appearance.
Jeter will always be a Yankee, but his 19-year reign at shortstop will end. Relegated to highlight reels will be moments such as his headfirst dive into the stands after robbing Trot Nixon of a two-run hit in the 12th inning against the Red Sox in 2004, his backhanded flip to the plate against the A's in the 2001 postseason and his five-hit performance on July 9, 2011, when he homered for his 3,000th career hit. Wade Boggs is the only other player in baseball history to do that.
Jeter has been feted with gifts and has received standing ovations from coast to coast in his final season, but the anticipated final ovation for Jeter's last home game should shake Yankee Stadium -- and perhaps Jeter himself -- to the core.
Jeter kept his emotions intact on Derek Jeter Day earlier this month. Those around Jeter have said the finality of it all is bound to hit him at some point. That moment could be at hand.
A year ago, Mariano Rivera melted into tears as his career came to an end. Jeter was at the mound as his longtime teammate gave in to the moment.
The Yankees are not saying if they have anything planned for Jeter's final home game. Rivera did not speak to the crowd on his final night, so Jeter's departure also might be a visual. If Joe Girardi sends out a defensive replacement for Jeter in the late innings, how loud and how long will that final roar be?
Could the game be called on account of emotion?
Jeter will be back when his number is retired, and someday he might join Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle as the only Yankees to receive a monument. But his past as a player is about to begin.
At some point Thursday, the Yankees' 14th captain and most popular player since the years of Thurman Munson and Don Mattingly will hear the taped voice of the late Bob Sheppard announce his last at-bat at the Stadium.
Before Rivera, no Yankees star gave a year-long notice of his intent to retire. Ruth was traded, Gehrig's farewell was abruptly planned after his illness prevented him from playing anymore, DiMaggio retired in the offseason and Mantle left at the beginning of spring training.
Jeter's final week will start Monday with a Steiner Sports production entitled "Derek Jeter Live" at Manhattan's historic Hudson Theatre. Jeter will answer questions about his career from an expected sold-out audience of 700. Promoters of the one-hour event said Jeter will not be given advance notice of the questions. He likely will steer clear of revealing much about his plans or, in his 20th year of being the sports world's most eligible bachelor, any relationship details.
On the field, Jeter is down to polishing his resume. His first big-league hit -- a single -- came on May 30, 1995, off Seattle pitcher Tim Belcher. He will end with the sixth-most hits in major-league history.
He has played more years and in more games than any other Yankee. He also has the most at-bats, stolen bases, postseason hits and doubles. Jeter appeared in his 138th game of the season Saturday. He has played in more games in the season in which he turned 40 than any of the five players ahead of him on the career hits list.
Jeter's baseball resume is nearly complete. The Yankee Stadium fans will provide the exclamation point.