Rachel Ulfers is a born and raised Twins fan, avid Twinkie Town reader, wrote for her high school paper, and now writes about various topics including her love of dogs. This is her take on a unique and special moment during Tuesday's All-Star Game at Target Field.
As a hardcore, born and raised Twins fan who attends close to 20 games a year, I've seen a lot of baseball. And by baseball I don't mean just nine innings, I mean the experience that is baseball, including tenth inning stuff - special moments for fans and for the game itself. As that hardcore Twins fan, I am here to say that Derek Jeter's tenth inning moment during the All-Star Game may have just been my favorite.
While Target Field and Minneapolis had been buzzing all week with Fan Fest, tourists, and Minnesota nice, the media outlets were buzzing about Derek Jeter. If you didn't know, he's kind of a big deal, and that big deal was coming to Target Field.
One could argue that the media gave too much attention to the situation, but the Twins and Major League Baseball gave just the right amount during the big event. In fact, Minnesota was the perfect place for this experience. While Jeter is recognized as the Yankee most people are "pretty okay" with, Yankees don't usually fare well away from home. It still seemed a fairly safe bet that Jeter would get respect, but Minnesota gave it to him in spades, making Minneapolis and its people look like the Minnesota Nice everyone thinks we are.
On the day of the actually game, leading up to the non-starting lineups, there was the usual fanfare to get the fans sufficiently excited. (Although I think the beer machines already did that.) Then the non-starters were announced, lined up neatly, and awaited their captains. Everyone else was awaiting The Captain.
In a turn of events that could only happen on this one day, in this one moment, everyone in Twins Territory got on their feet and clapped for Derek Jeter. They clapped so long he tipped his cap, and actually looked kind of embarrassed, like a child who begs a parent to "Just stop taking so many pictures, Mom!" The fact that he had a look that seemed to say "Thank you, now please announce everyone else," made it all that much better.
Jeter had two at-bats, a double for his first and a single for his second. Both at-bats received standing ovations - in fact the entire stadium at one point was chanting his name. Previous to that moment the odds of that happening anywhere other than Yankee Stadium were approximately as high as hearing Joe Mauer use a curse word (oh gosh, heck no!) or drink skim milk (it's just too watery). There were no fans of the Yankees or the Twins or anyone else, there were only baseball fans. And they wanted to see The Captain do what he did for the last time.
In the fourth inning, Derek Jeter stepped out of his last All-Star Game. As he came off the field, "New York, New York" began to play over the sound system while everyone in the stadium, and probably the skyways, stopped to stand and applaud one more time. Upon arriving in the dugout, Derek Jeter, 20-year Yankee player, hugged every single person in the dugout. When he got to the Red Sox, one of them could be heard saying "I love you, man." When he reached the end of the dugout, Jeter came out one more time to tip his cap. And then the game went on.
It was the perfect sendoff to a classy player, much like Mariano Rivera closing out last year's game. There were no flashy ceremonies or car giveaways, that wasn't the point. This wasn't supposed to be a Jeterfest, nor should it have been. This was allowing fans to pay respect to a player who spent an entire career in one place, always showed class, and made the game fun to watch. I felt good cheering for him and that's the reason he deserved it.
It's not often that one player, especially those of the Yankee variety, will elicit this reaction from anyone other than their own fans, much less in an away stadium. This guy is one of those people.