BASEBALL

Derek Jeter has a blast in farewell All-Star game

New York Yankees captain slams a lead-off double as the Target Field crowd and fellow players give him a grand All-Star send-off

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 11:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 11:22pm
 

Derek Jeter was a huge hit from the very start in his final All-Star game.

Batting lead-off for the American League, the 40-year-old shortstop for the New York Yankees soaked in an ovation that lasted more than a minute at Target Field, then seized the moment by hitting a double.

Jeter soon crossed the plate for the game's first run. After three innings of action, he was ceremonially removed from his familiar position in the field to one more round of cheers as his mum, dad, sister and nephew watched from the stands.

I think everyone wants it to sink in that this is my last
Derek Jeter

"This makes me feel great. This is what it is all about," Jeter said during the American League's 5-3 win. "You appreciate moments like this. It is something I will remember. It's been fun family time for us."

The double was one of Jeter's classic, opposite-field line drives to the right. He singled to right field in his next at-bat, too, raising his All-Star batting average to a robust .481 - 13 hits in 27 at-bats. That is the second-best of all time for players with 20 or more at-bats, behind Charlie Gehringer.

Okay, so maybe National League starter Adam Wainwright admitted he threw something juicy for Jeter to hit.

"I was going to give him a couple of pipe shots," the right-hander said. "He deserved it."

Wainwright later said he did not want to take anything away from Jeter's first-inning hit.

"It was missaid," the pitcher said. "I hope people realise I'm not intentionally giving up hits out there."

While Jeter received the cheers, American League outfielder Mike Trout got the hardware and was named MVP after going 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

"I'm speechless right now," said 22-year-old LA outfielder Trout, after accepting the award and being honoured on the same night as one of his idols. "Growing up and [Jeter] being my role model, it's pretty special."

Jeter showed off in the field, too. In the top of the first, he made a slick, diving stop on Andrew McCutchen's sharp ground ball up the middle. Jeter got to his feet and fired an on-target throw to first base, but the fleet-footed McCutchen was too fast, making a lead-off single.

McCutchen smiled and pointed at Jeter, who grinned back at the reigning NL MVP.

The Yankees captain also had a few words for his teammates. American League manager John Farrell, of Boston, asked Jeter to speak to the players in the clubhouse before the game. "Just said a couple of things," Jeter said.

This was the 14th time Jeter was picked as an All-Star. He's set to retire after this season. When Jeter stepped to the plate, the crowd gave him a 63-second ovation, prompting him to wave, nod and tip his helmet several times.

Wainwright, who spoke the day before about how proud he would be to pitch to Jeter on this memorable occasion, backed up towards second base and left his glove on the mound so he could clap along with everyone else at the ballpark.

"For him to do that meant a lot to me," Jeter said.

With a wide smile, Jeter shouted a few words toward the St Louis ace, good-naturedly encouraging him to get the inning going.

Fittingly, a recording of late Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard's famous monotone introduction was played as he walked up for his at-bat with thousands of smartphones snapping away in the seats:

"Now batting, for the American League, from the New York Yankees, the shortstop, No 2, Derek Jeter, No 2."

In the third, Jeter took Cincinnati ace Alfredo Simon to a full count before his single.

Then, right before the fourth inning began, Jeter was taken out for Alexei Ramirez and the captain jogged off. With Frank Sinatra's New York, New York playing on the stadium speakers, he waved to the crowd and exchanged hugs and handshakes in the AL dugout and then took a curtain call.

Earlier, Jeter was the first player to ride down the red carpet that was rolled out for a downtown parade of the game's greats, from their hotel to the ballpark about 10 blocks away. The hearty ovations started there, while Jeter rode with his parents and other family members, who came to Minneapolis for the event.

"I think everyone wants it to sink in that this is my last," Jeter said before batting practice. "But I'm just trying to enjoy it while I'm here and stop thinking about this being the last one."

Commissioner Bud Selig said:

"If you were sitting two decades ago and you said, 'Boy, this is a guy I want to be the face of baseball and be what this generation will remember,' you couldn't have written a script like this," Selig said. "He is just remarkable."

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