This is a very special time in Derek Jeter’s life. He and his wife, Hannah, are due to have their first baby soon. He and Jeb Bush have put in a bid to purchase the Miami Marlins. And on Sunday, the former New York Yankees shortstop is having his number retired by the only team for which he ever played.
With the ceremony for his number retirement just days away, Jeter decided to use the site he founded, The Players’ Tribune, to share some of his feelings. He wrote and published a piece titled “Thank You, New York,” where he gets personal about what his relationship to New York, and Yankees fans, has meant to him.
He starts the letter by talking about the kid he once was.
New York, I want to tell you a story — about a kid who grew up in the Midwest, in a town called Kalamazoo. Quiet, unsure and at times a little intimidated. A homebody at heart. About a kid with a dream who moved to a big city — to the big city. A kid who was just trying to keep up with everyone else.
It’s weird to think about Derek Jeter being like that. He was on the Yankees for such a long time (20 years), and he always seemed so sure of himself. Imagining him as an intimidated kid is hard to do.
He goes on to thank fans and New Yorkers alike for encouraging him on his journey from Midwest kid to Yankees superstar. But they did more than encourage him. They helped him learn about the true nature of New York.
And throughout 20 years in pinstripes, I learned that despite the pace and the pressure, one code truly makes this city go: Get up each day, put on your uniform, go to work, do your best, and don’t make excuses.
The whole letter is lovely and heartfelt, but this one passage really shows how sports fans — from New York or any city — can take a player and make them one of their own.
Thank you, New York, for asking a lot of me. For challenging me. For giving this kid a place to grow up. I wasn’t born a New Yorker — you asked me to earn it. I wasn’t born a Yankee, but you made me into one.
Everyone comes to this city with dreams of being No. 1. You showed me that being No. 2 was more than enough.
There are many stories of athletes who came to a city and gave their all over a long career. But when it comes to New York and Derek Jeter, that’s special. And on Sunday, when his number is retired by the Yankees, everyone will get to see how special that relationship really is. He’ll get the opportunity to thank New York and Yankees fans then, but they mean so much to him that he had to thank them twice.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – –