Thursday, September 25, 2014

An Open Letter To Derek Jeter #farewellcaptain

I still remember the first time I saw you take the field. I was watching a Yankees game, for the sake of watching the game and then your face appeared on the screen. Now I was paying attention. It was your first game and it was love at first sight. like every other girl I became obsessed with you.  Posters, cards, pictures, magazines, I had them all. I was going to grow up and marry you.  

There’s a famous quote by Maya Angelou that says, “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that’s exactly why twenty years later, at the age of 35 with two kids and a husband, I’m still in love with you.
My first time seeing you play in person was at a game in Anaheim. I showed up early to catch you at BP with every intention of making sure you saw me too. I was shouting at the top of my lungs like every other person there, trying to get YOUR attention. Trying to be noticed. To get an autograph. To get a ball. Something.  And then you stopped. You looked around and in Jeter fashion you tipped your hat. At me. And at every other kid in that stadium yelling your name. You made us all feel like we were the only one there. Like we mattered.  And it was always that way whenever you came to town. You stopped. You tipped. You thanked us. You always made us fans feel special.

So it was no surprise that you made sure I got my ball at Dodger Stadium a few years later. I was yelling so loud during batting practice that I’m sure it annoyed you. Probably why you threw that ball at me. To shut me up. It worked. I was all smiles all day.

The next year I showed up at Anaheim, with that very ball in my hand and a contraband poster that said, “DJ Please sign my ball.” I kept shouting to you during batting practice in hopes that you’d hear me. Like always, a tip of the hat and I knew you KNEW I was there. In an effort to outsmart all the other fans, I was on the Angels dugout side. People said you’d never come. You wouldn’t hear me. You wouldn’t see me. But they were wrong. In the middle of your fielding practice, you tucked your glove under your arm and ran towards me. As I realized what was happening I started jumping and shouting. You motioned me to be quiet. OMG! You were coming towards me. You walked right up to me and asked me, “Where’s that ball you want me to sign Sweet heart.” I told you the story of how I had gotten it from you at Dodger Stadium, you smiled and asked if there was anything else I wanted signed. And then like always, YOU thanked me.

People have asked me why I didn’t get you to sign a new ball so that it could be worth money someday. The answer is easy. The memories and my stories are priceless. They’re not for sale, they’re for me to hold on to and tell my kids and grandkids who will no doubt know who the Greatest Baseball Player ever was. Derek Sanderson Jeter.
I tell these stories over and over, to anyone who will listen and I still get as excited as I did then. They speak volumes of who you are, of what you mean to baseball and the countless fans that admire and love you.

Over the years I grew up, I got married, I had daughters of my own. As I moved on things from my past were lost or tossed, but never you or the memorabilia. Never the stories and never the love. Some moms are embarrassed of their teenage crushes and yet my girls love you just as much as I do. They share the same stories, the same admiration and I’m so blessed that I was able to share You with them. They’ve been to the games, they’ve watched you on tv, they own the jerseys and the posters. They are Derek Jeter Fans just like mom. They shout at the tv in October, they cheer at the rings. You've given us the best that baseball has to offer. Even when the Yankees were down, they still cheered. They still loved you and kept the hope because it didn’t matter, we had The Captain on our side.

And so today our love story ends. And I'm ok knowing that it's not the only one you have, today there are millions of stories like mine being shared by moms to their little girls.

 It’s been a great run. You’ve been the best kind of love to have, not easy when you live in Dodgers Town but it prevailed. You were baseball when baseball didn’t know what it was. The definition of greatness, class, and humility all in one. Today I tip my hat to you. Thanks for the memories Captain, you will be missed. 

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